Saints' Attempt To Strong-Arm New Orleans Won't Work

Aerial view of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
City of New Orleans | Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints, like the vast majority of their NFL brethren, are not allowed to have fans at home games as a part of the city's efforts to combat coronavirus. It's not ideal, sure, but the end goal is certainly worth the cost and it's not like the Saints are at a massive disadvantage considering other teams are by and large in the same position.

New Orleans was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and is still battling large case numbers. As a result, it doesn't seem that fans would be allowed to attend games anytime in the near future. The Saints are apparently displeased with this to the point where they told Adam Schefter they were in talks with LSU officials to potentially play home games in Baton Rouge so that fans would be allowed.

A lot to unpack here. First and foremost, this is not a legitimate possibility. Fans do give an edge to the home team, but Tiger Stadium will not be at full capacity, so the advantage is marginal to start with. Second, in the process of playing in Tiger Stadium, the Saints would give up their biggest home-field advantage, which is the fact they play in a dome. I personally find it hard to believe that Sean Payton would be willing to subject his team to the forces of nature, which they usually only deal with on the road, in exchange for some disruption in the opposing team's huddle because of fan noise. Especially with how Drew Brees has been playing this season. He doesn't need the wind to complicate his passing efforts even more.

That makes this a negotiation tactic. A very obvious one at that. And it also won't work.

Why would New Orleans officials care if the Saints go play their home games somewhere else for a while? Their constituents would be displeased, but again, they cannot go to the games anyhow, so that doesn't matter. Since the stadium is closed, there's no money coming in from concessions and tickets. As far as the city itself is concerned, whether the Saints play there or in Baton Rouge or on some high school field is purely cosmetic. It seems unlikely that the mayor will suddenly capitulate because the Saints are threatening to play somewhere else with that in mind.

Finally... why on Earth do the Saints care this much? Every other team in the same position is quietly just dealing with it. It isn't ideal, but nothing is this year. Does the Saints organization really believe that they know better than the mayor and feel so strongly fans should be allowed at games they'll start battling in the court of public opinion over it? Is the end result really worth it? We aren't even taking into consideration how awful the organization would look if this actually worked and then the next Saints game became a superspreader event as fans filled some of the Superdome.

Everyone wants to be back at football games, man. We all miss the fans. But the general safety of the public should be more important than competitive advantage or the bottom line for the franchise. Yet here we are, watching a football team employ heavy-handed negotiation tactics to go in the face of basic common sense and what the medical community is telling them. It's frustrating to see-- but at least the Saints will probably not be successful.