Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Who's been hurt the most by the bounty disaster besides Saints fans who've had to pay hard-earned cash to watch a 2012 season set on fire before it even started?
Sean Payton's lost a year coaching, but he might coach 20 more years, so it's not him.
Maybe it's Jonathan Vilma, but his career is coming to a close as much because of a knee injury and age as it is the commissioner's yearlong ban.
Anthony Hargrove has a strong case as his eight-game suspension has basically killed a football career he rebuilt after overcoming drug addiction.
He's stuck in no-man's land. He's not good enough for a team to think he's worth keeping on the roster while he serves his suspension and he can't serve his suspension until he's on a team's roster. That's the very definition getting totally $$#^&* over. Excuse my language.
My choice for the guy who has lost the most because of Roger Goodell's bounty farce is Aaron Kromer. His interm-interim stint as Saints coach probably will kill any chance he had at becoming a head coach in the NFL.
Kromer was getting interviews last offseason and was thought of as a bright young mind and a guy who had learned under Sean Payton. The Saints were an offensive machine and teams always think, 'Hey let's hire somebody from the team who scores a ton of points.'
Now is it fair to pin all the blame on the Saints 1-4 record on Kromer? Of course not, but life isn't about what's fair. How would a team get their fans excited about hiring Kromer?
Imagine if the Browns fire whoever their coach is after the season. How do they explain hiring the guy who took over a 13-3 team and led them to at best two wins in six games? Would hiring Aaron Kromer get fans excited? They would be like, 'We just hired the interim-interim guy for the Saints? That's the dumbest thing the Browns have ever done and they drafted Tim Couch so they know stupid.'
Oh and if Joe Vitt comes back and turns the Saints around, then it becomes even harder for Kromer to get a head coaching job. It will be even harder to get the 1-4 interim-interim stink off him if Joe Vitt leads the Saints to a winning record because everyone will say, 'I guess Kromer was part of the problem.'
It's too bad really because Kromer has been a good soldier and it's not his fault the defense is maybe the worst in team history and the offense has had injuries and isn't as great as last year.
Life sucks sometimes, Aaron. Feel free to say something horrible to Roger Goodell the next time you see him.
Sean Payton sabbatical spot of the week: Qatar
This week the coach can head to the Middle East and home of the 2022 World Cup. What's there to do in Qatar besides wish it was easier to buy a beer because of their strict alcohol laws while you melt to death in 115 degree heat? Not much.
Fun fact about Qatar: In 1995 Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani overthrew his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a bloodless coup while his father was out of the country. It's a well-known fact the most enjoyable kind of coup is a bloodless coup. Basically, Daddy was on vacation and sonny boy moved daddy's stuff and wives into a smaller palace in a bad neighborhood. That's good over-throwing!
Last Week: 3-2
New Orleans (-3) at Tampa: I fully expect the Bucs and their 31st ranked pass defense to basically dare the Saints to run the ball. Can the Saints and their 30th ranked rushing offense do it? I'll say, yes, but it will make for the low scoring grind it out game Tampa wants.
If Jonathan Vilma plays I expect it will inspire the defense to not be completely atrocious. They might even hold Tampa to under 20 points! Just kidding, the Saints can't hold a team under 20 unless they are allowed to play 13 guys with aluminum bats and even then they can't generate a pass rush. I'm of the belief a pass rush is like unicorns and six pack abs...in that it's a complete fantasy and only happens in my dreams.
This game is going to come down to a Garrett Hartley field goal and since he's been struggling Hartley will be under intense pressure. He'll come through but this game will take years off our lives. Having to watch Greg Schiano coached football is known to do this.
Minnesota (-6) vs. Arizona: I'm convinced the Saints will win more games than the Cardinals. They have no quarterback and no running game. Besides that the offense is fine.
Green Bay (-5.5) at St. Louis: The Packers are really good even at 3-3, but if I may, a word on the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons. They are the luckiest team of 2012 by far. They are getting out gained per play and their rushing defense is ranked 27th and you know who they remind me of? The 2010 Saints. The 2010 Saints were one of my favorite Saints teams ever. We were enjoying the post-Super Bowl afterglow and simply believed because the Saints had the Lombardi Trophy Drew Brees would pull out every game. They won six games by less than a touchdown and Brees pulled their rear-end out of the fire in spectacular fashion multiple times. It all came crashing down in spectacular fashion in Seattle, but mostly we just shrugged and said, 'That was a fun year and hey we just won the Super Bowl. One bad playoff loss isn't the end of the world.'
When the Falcons melt in the playoffs again I doubt their fans will feel the same.
Dallas (-2) at Carolina: At what point can we all agree as a country that Jason Garrett is incapable of managing the clock? We might not agree on the debt, jobs, or abortion but I think America is in complete agreement that Garrett makes Les Miles look like an astrophysicist when it comes to game management.
Seattle (+7) at San Francisco: The Seahawks defense is flat out nasty. They are a playoff team even though they are breaking in a rookie QB. How did Pete Carroll get so good at drafting?
LSU PICK ALERT
LSU (-2.5) at Texas A&M: Since I live in Houston I can tell you Aggie fans are non too pleased that the game they've been most looking forward to has an 11 a.m. kickoff. Less tailgating because there is only so much beer you can drink between 7-11 a.m.
I think the early kickoff favors LSU because their biggest weakness besides QB is their offensive line and bad offensive lines always struggle on the road. Why? Crowd noise. But the crowd won't be nearly as crazy before noon. LSU survives and the Bama game still decides the season.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.