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Barry Hirstius

Saints Should Be EMBARRASSED By Apparent Incompetence of Team’s Medical Staff

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Saints News Network.


Thank God for 2nd opinions.

That's what eventually led Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux to learn that for the least few months, he's been walking around (literally) with a bone fracture in his leg which Saints team doctors had previously diagnosed originally as a "contusion".

What's worse is that Breaux's discovery is an indictment of the Saints as well as the NBA basketball Pelicans organizations' apparent BLATANT INCOMPETENCE over the course of the past several seasons; that would seem to suggest that the respective New Orleans pro sports teams -- whose medical staffs in some cases have employees that work for both -- have been misdiagnosing players for quite some time.

Given the results of the past few seasons of both teams, it would appear that their respective lack of results in the "win-loss" column are indicative of that same incompetence.

NOLA.com / The Times-Picayune beat writer Josh Katzenstein reported that Breaux's camp decided to seek a second opinion at Ochsner Medical Center; after he felt that he was being "pressured" to return to the field, thinking he was healthy enough to practice despite Breaux saying he was still in pain, according to a source.

There had been some speculation (unconfirmed) that perhaps the Saints coaching staff -- specifically head coach Sean Payton -- felt that Breaux may have been "milking" the injury somewhat, and should have been out on the field practicing, since he has missed most of Training Camp. 

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Monday's X-Ray results now obviously have debunked that speculation and the accompanying rumors, which had led to reports that the Saints were actively seeking to trade Breaux.

Payton refused to acknowledge those trade reports, and only said in regards to Breaux being able to practice (or not) that: "Its important to be out here, not getting into specifics...but availability is as important as anything else". 

Decipher that however you choose, but that suggests that he (and the team) had felt that Breaux should be practicing.

But the report by Katzenstein followed the earlier report by ESPN's Mike Triplett that the organization had fired two members of its medical team, after the club learned Breaux had been suffering from a fractured fibula that was apparently initially diagnosed only as a 'contusion', has now completely and unequivocally dismissed ANY notion that Breaux was "milking" the injury.

Two days later, Payton -- as Triplett has reported since the initial report from earlier -- was said to be pissed off about the entire events of the past 72 hours, and “was livid” over Breaux’s misdiagnosis. It's unclear if he has given Breaux a much-needed apology, on behalf of the entire organization.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Surely, Breaux should be exonerated of any misconceptions about his status, generated by the events of the past few days. He deserves that much.

As a direct result, the Saints organization announced the firings of team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, and they obviously felt that there was enough reason enough to do so.

Now while It's unfair to single out Jones and Suri (who also was with the Pelicans for a year-plus but was their head team physician and director of medical services) for all of the apparent misdiagnoses of the past several seasons --- the very same misdiagnoses that have been the subject of speculation of both the media and fan-bases of both teams with regard to how effectively the collective staffs were (or weren't) doing their jobs as alleged medical "professionals" --- it does speak to the fact that the Saints (and Pelicans) failure to succeed can be directly linked to them.

Doctor Misty Suri (Photo courtesy of WHNO-TV New Orleans)

As "evidence", do the names Brian YoungChamp Bailey, Jairus Byrd, C.J. Spiller, Keenan LewisDannell Ellerbe, James Laurinaitis, Michael Mauti, and now Breaux as well, all ring a bell? 

Every single one of those players ended up either not being able to play or make significant contributions to the team, because team doctors cleared them or made the evaluation that they were medically fit; which seemed to contradict what happened once they got on the field or what was eventually discovered by later examinations.

We'll leave out defensive tackle Nick Fairley, since the same Saints team doctors already knew about his heart condition that was revealed to all 32 NFL teams before he was drafted; though there is the prevailing notion or thought that the Saints should have taken extra precautions before they signed Fairley last year and then gave him a brand new 3-year contract in March.

Washington Post NFL national beat writer Matt Bonesteel reported that Jones and Suri work for Ochsner Health Systems, which has been a corporate partner of the Saints for nearly 10 years, according to a recent company news release announcing that Ochsner had been awarded naming rights to the training facility shared by the team and the Pelicans.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Bonesteel noted that Suri also is listed as a team physician for the Pelicans in the NBA team’s most recent media guide. Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune says the Pelicans have been frustrated with their medical staff for nearly a decade, which includes the on-going saga of center Omer Asik, one of a handful of Pelicans players who have spent more time on the Pelicans bench than in their line-up.

For his part, Lewis posted this on Instagram earlier (as first relayed on Twitter by Canal Street Chronicles managing editor / analyst John Hendrix), regarding his experiences with the afore-mentioned Doctor Suri.

Lewis' assertions about Dr. Suri aside, this whole ordeal of the past 72 hours is of the Saints (and Pelicans) organizations' own making; thanks to the lack of oversight of the professionals tasked with overseeing the health and well-being of its players.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

That two professional sports teams --- in the same city with the same ownership and run by some of the very men at the top who simultaneously work in both organizations --- have allowed this to happen, is a disgrace to their own professions and a disservice to the fans who pay their hard-earned money to see the product that is put out on the field (or the court) to represent them and the community each season.

That it has come to this point, borders on total disbelief.

Perhaps "jaw-dropping", would be a more appropriate term.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

In a nutshell, it's absolutely unfathomable and damn sure inexcusable.

Today, the great sports fans of NOLA and Louisiana, as well as members of the Who Dat Nation everywhere; have been dishonored.

The Saints should be outright EMBARRASSED by today's developments, and they owe it to their fans and perhaps more importantly to themselves and what's still left of their reputations in the sports world, to do something to fix the problem --- and get it fixed QUICK.....................

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist 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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