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Barry Hirstius

Sean Payton’s Subliminal Message to His Team: Suck It Up and Start Playing

When word broke that the Saints and head coach Sean Payton were willing to entertain trade offers for starting #1 CB Delvin Breaux earlier, the reaction from Saints fans throughout the entire Who Dat Nation was predictably one of shock and indignation.

Why would the team trade one of its top defensive players?

What is the real reason behind all of this? 

While those questions at the moment have a variety of different answers to them, here's what we do know: according to New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill, the Saints have begun looking for a trade partner after growing frustrated with Breaux's injury history over the last 3 years. There is already some interest from other teams around the League.

Breaux has had trouble staying on the field the last few seasons; and this off-season has missed more than a week of practice at one time or another due to a leg contusion, and now has also missed most of the first 3 weeks of Training Camp.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

He finished last year on injured reserve with a shoulder sprain; which came after he suffered a broken fibula in Week 1 of last season that caused him to miss the next 7 games.

Underhill says that the Saints have tried to remain patient while Breaux gets healthy, but are ready to move on to other options.

However, here's something else to consider: that perhaps the Saints don't intend on trading Breaux at all.

Speculation among many within the media that cover the team daily has suggested this could be Saints head coach Sean Payton's way of motivating Breaux, while also simultaneously sending a not-so-subtle and subliminal message to every single player on the roster: 

Suck it up, and start playing.

Unless you injury is a SERIOUS one that requires constant, round-the-clock treatment and medical care, then your butt better get out on the field and do the job that you're getting paid to do.

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As evidence of the likelihood that Payton might have just simply been looking to get that sort of message across to his team this morning by letting word "leak" that Breaux was on the trading block, there were three players --- veteran center Max Unger, and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and defensive end Trey Hendrickson --- who were all back at Practice a short while ago after each one of them had missed significant time in the past several weeks.

Now for sure, that might have been just sheer coincidence.

But at the same time, it's a very distinct possibility; given the well-known fact that Payton has used such motivational tactics before, the same kind of mind games that he learned from his mentor, NFL head coaching legend Bill Parcells.

As / The Times-Picayune NFL columnist Jeff Duncan noted on Twitter:

Sean Payton has grown very frustrated with the team's issues with injured players over the past 3 seasons, and it's a reason why he got rid of veterans Jairus Byrd and Dannell Ellerbe, both of them within a span of a few months from each other.

Whether or not Payton has actually reached that conclusion with Breaux and is actively seeking to rid himself of Breaux's presence, would appear to be up for debate.

Photo courtesy of WWL TV New Orleans

As practice ended a short while ago, Payton declined to comment on the Breaux trade story, saying: "We would never comment if we were shopping Delvin Breaux. That would be club business."

Payton then paused for a second, and then said: "Its important to be out here, not getting into specifics...but availability is as important as anything else".

Payton then addressed the availability of other players, noting that Unger would be ready to play by the team's 3rd Pre-Season game at home in 2 weeks against the Houston Texans, and that Lattimore was "close" to returning; before moving on to address other topics.


Just in case you missed it: Sean Payton made it clear in just those few short comments, the very thought that he sought to convey to the rest of the public, both to media and fans alike.

It's time to suck it up, buttercup --- and unless your ass is seriously hurt, you'd better get out on that field and play; or otherwise: we'll go out and find somebody else who will.

Message sent --- and apparently: message received......


UPDATE (Monday, 2:45 P.M. Central time) / The Times-Picayune beat writer Josh Katzenstein reported that Breaux earlier today underwent X-rays that revealed a more serious injury, according to a source, though still not an ailment considered long-term in nature.

Katzenstein says that the source declined to say the exact injury with which Breaux is suffering, but the cornerback was seen at the team facility Monday afternoon in a walking boot and using crutches. 

Katzenstein also noted that the Saints couldn't trade Breaux right now even if they wanted to, because NFL teams cannot trade injured players since any transaction is contingent on a player passing a physical with his new team.......

Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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