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Why are the Saints in New York?

The press is reporting that contractors and other "support" are amassing in Louisiana to "aid" in the lucrative post-Katrina reconstruction. Some are legitimate and well-intentioned. Others are looking for a quick and sleazy buck. And while we cannot tell whom is whom in this support soup there are two groups we can list with certainty as Katrina-profiteers: the NFL and the New York Giants.

How else to explain why tonight's Saints/Giants tilt is in New York? The game was originally scheduled for the Superdome, but was allegedly moved to support the NFL's fundraising weekend. Oh sure, the league is claiming that the Saints are the home team and the league will clot Giants' Stadium with Saints paraphernalia. But this game doesn't pass the smell test. It's in Giants stadium, after all. The Saints players didn't want to go to New York. San Antonio, which will host three of New Orleans' home games, offered the Alamodome for all eight home games and ended up getting an odd split with Baton Rouge, where LSU's stadium will host four games. In fact, San Antonio guaranteed sellouts for all of the Saints games.

The league can claim that moving the game to Monday night would highlight the plight of people in the Gulf reason. And yes, it will enhance the mini-telethon being held at halftime of both games. But couldn't the NFL accomplish the same thing if the game were in San Antonio? The ESPN folks hosting the telethon are not going to be in the stadium, so why does the game have to be in the same metropolitan area? An argument could be made that this improves TV ratings, but again, conditions would be the same if the game were in the Northeast or the Southwest.

The only sure result is that the Giants are getting an extra home game, at the expense of an already overburdened team. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue tried to address the Saints before their opener in Charlotte last week. They turned him down, preferring to listen to N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin. I think this is an ideal time to invite Tagliabue in. Now, however, he should be forced to answer the Saints' questions, not to pontificate on the "support" the league is giving them.

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