NFL hasn't treated Saints right

In the wake of horrible Hurricane Katrina, the National Football League has done the right thing by giving the victims donations and staging a fund-raising telethon. But when it comes specifically to the NFL's treatment of their own New Orleans Saints and their fans, the league's actions have clearly been wrong.

During the week that Katrina first hit, some Saint players didn't know what had happened to their families, homes, etc. With many more important things to worry about, they did not want to play football. Yet that weekend the league never gave the Saints the option of not playing their meaningless exhibition game in Oakland, predictably, a 13-6 yawner of a loss with most of the team mentally back in New Orleans.

After the extent of the devastation was realized, the NFL then needed to relocate all of this season's Saint home games. One might think that the league would serve the wishes of suffering Saint fans and schedule the contests as close to home as possible.

Instead, the NFL added insult to injury by making New Orleans play on its opponents' home field Monday night in New York. It is safe to say that few Saint fans will be in attendance for their first "home" game, although they would love to be. The NFL has given no explanation or reason whatsoever for moving the event so far away.

Also, from strictly a competitive standpoint, forcing New Orleans to play in New York makes absolutely no sense. It is curious that with its salary cap, free agency and entry draft, the NFL can preach and brag about its overall league parity, but then it can be so hypocritical by giving the Saints one extra road game and the Giants one extra home game more than every other team. Obviously, this Monday's game should at least be played on a neutral field.

For the sake of equality, the game should be played in either Washington, Philadelphia or Dallas. Why? Because those division rival cities have a vested interest in seeing the Giants lose, which would boost attendance and give the Saints some of their entitled home field advantage.

Washington would make sense geographically, and it would make sense to honor the victims of the national tragedy at the capital. Ironically, not only will Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas and especially New Orleans not be hosting the events, their fans will be miles away watching thousands of Giant fans on TV rooting against the "home" team.

What were the NFL and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue thinking about when they were rescheduling Monday's game? Was it all just about attendance and money? What is their hidden agenda?

The only saving grace is that the Saints recently have been a better road team than home. Hopefully, like last week against a good Carolina squad, a road win will give their fans something to cheer about.

• Switching gears to NASCAR, Sunday is the first of 10 races in the 10-man Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship. As always, odds are available as to who will win this year's title. Notably absent from the list are the ever-popular Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who failed to qualify. Veterans Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace are the sentimental choices.

Jack Roush Racing has won 11 out of the 26 races and the last two championships with Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. Throw in Martin, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, and that's half of the 10-man field.

Winner - Greg Biffle.

• For die-hard basketball fans, the WNBA Finals have begun between the Sacramento Monarchs and Connecticut Sun. Can't say we have watched much WNBA action lately, or ever, for that matter. No prediction.


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