In a few days the most hated man in New Orleans will arrive in town. As the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell serves as unofficial host for the league's championship week. He will attend meetings and banquets. A giant party will be thrown in his honor. A small fleet of cars will whisk him around the city. Usually a man in his role will be welcomed with warm applause. Except this time, New Orleans would rather he not come at all.
The anger is still raw. Almost everybody here believes Goodell ruined the Saints' season with his yearlong suspension of coach Sean Payton over the team's bounty program. The most conspiratorial think he wanted to destroy the Saints. They simmer whenever they think of the eight-week suspension given general manager Mickey Loomis, the six weeks handed assistant coach Joe Vitt, the loss of a pick in this spring's draft and the shorter suspensions given four players. The rage for Goodell is everywhere.
"We were kind of joking that he is going to have to have a taste tester everywhere he goes to eat," said Bobby Hebert, the former Saints quarterback who is now the city's most popular sports radio host.