BOSTON (CBS) — The New Orleans Saints have long been one of the biggest supporters of the New England Patriots. Outside of their healthy working relationship with their preseason joint practices, the organizations also feel each other’s pain when it comes to the wrath of the NFL league offices.
Saints head coach Sean Payton, in particular, really feels for Tom Brady right now as the Patriots quarterback has to spend the rest of September away from the team and making no contact whatsoever with coaches or teammates. Payton tweeted a photo of the giant Brady banner hanging at Gillette Stadium on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, which caused it to mostly slip through the cracks, but he was asked about tweeting the banner on ESPN’s Mike & Mike show and had this to say, via ESPN’s Mike Triplett:
“Well, if someone’s asking, then I don’t know if they’ve paid much attention to it all. … And there aren’t a lot of people that can understand what Tom’s going through. I’m one of them.”
Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season following the Saints’ BountyGate scandal, a punishment that did not necessarily come with proof that Payton had any knowledge of his team’s behavior or directed any of the alleged bounties.
Payton got the kind of punishment that many around the country felt Bill Belichick deserved for SpyGate, or even DeflateGate. The Patriots head coach, however, still appreciates the support he and the Patriots have gotten from Payton and the Saints, which he can’t say about everyone in the league. When asked about it on Thursday, Belichick said, “It means a lot. Always appreciate [Payton’s] support. He’s had ours. We’ve had his. That isn’t always the case.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also offered praise and support for Brady when ostensibly asked about the suspension, saying “Tom’s the greatest in the world, and I mean that.” Notably, the Steelers were the only team who voted against the section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that gave Roger Goodell his currently unfettered disciplinary power, which has become a lightning rod in the battle between the league and NFL Players Association.
The same can’t be said for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who appeared to suggest that the NFL proved Brady guilty in DeflateGate. But as Payton’s support for Brady shows, the Patriots aren’t alone in their “Us Against The World” mentality.