Terry Robiskie is the wide receivers coach of the Atlanta Falcons. (Special to the American Press)
The 5-foot-9, 187-pound Warrick Dunn to became an all-state high football player and sprint star at Catholic-Baton Rouge, a second-team All-America choice and Florida State’s all-time leading rusher and had a 12-year NFL career in which he ran for 10,967 yards and 49 touchdowns. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, June 23, 2012 9:31 PM
NATCHITOCHES — Apparently, there’s no getting around it.
Even as another crop of outstanding past state stars gathered for the annual Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the talk often drifted not to their past deeds but on the seemingly never-ending saga of Bountygate.
Yeah, that again, with the Saints.
One of Saturday night’s inductees, Deuce McAllister, has remained close to the organization since retiring as the Saints’ all-time leading rusher and touchdown maker.
Another, former LSU star Terry Robiskie, has been an NFL assistant coach at various outposts for 30 years, currently scheming against the Saints as the arch-rival Atlanta Falcons’ wide receivers coach.
Both would like to see the bounty scandal go away or at least move to the back burner so the Saints and the NFL can move on.
Robiskie, for instance, is still as competitive as he was as the Southeastern Conference’s MVP in 1976.
He hasn’t really lived in Louisiana since leaving the Tigers, but he has talked up his home state even while residing in California for 18 years.
“I used to tell them Louisiana has the athletes,” he said. “I’d hear California this and that, I’d laugh at them. California is a joke.”
But he also had to pull against his alma mater in the 2007 BCS national championship game since he had a son, Brian, on the Ohio State team that the Tigers dispatched for the title.
So it’s not just state pride that makes him want to see the Saints at full strength.
“We obviously want the Saints to be the best the Saints can be,” he said of the Falcons’ perspective. “The last couple of years they’re kind of up on us a little bit — 6-2 since I’ve been in Atlanta.
“We just want to come in and play them at their best. It’s unfortunate, hopefully it will go away and we can get it over with.”
Robiskie also said the Falcons were like much of the NFL in their lack of outrage over the alleged pay-for-pain scheme.
“We’ve looked at it,” Robiskie said. “I don’t think we look at it as ‘Oh, look at the Saints, what they did was so bad.’ We feel bad about it, we feel bad about the black eye that has been created. It’s a battle we try to stay out of. In reality we kind of hurt a little bit about it (with them).”
McAllister would also like to see the organization move on beyond the current lawyering and appealing that is keeping NFL Commissioner Roger Godell’s suspension of current Saints Jonathan Vilma (for the whole season) and Will Smith (four games) in the public eye.
“But those guys have that right to appeal that case, they have the right to see that evidence — quote — against them — unquote — they have the right to see what’s going on.
“Those players make the organization better. They still want to protect the rights of those players.”
McAllister said he had limited one-on-one dealings with Goodell in his career.
“But he’s an extremely sharp guy,” McAllister said. “One thing you have to understand is that he is the ‘president’ for 32 owners. He has to protect the game’s image because of sponsors that are giving a lot of money to put their symbol on that product. When the brand is put in a negative light, he has a tough task.”
McAllister’s main message, however, was that the Saints could not use the distractions of Bountygate as an excuse for not contending for another Super Bowl run.
“That organization will do it,” he said. “They’ve been through something back in ’05 (Hurricane Katrina) that no franchise has ever been through. To say they can’t overcome is simply not true. (In 2005) we had 36 hours to pack a bag for Katrina. They’ve got a whole offseason to prepare for this season now. So don’t let it be an excuse.”
It would help significantly, of course, if unsigned face of the franchise Drew Brees is there to quarterback the team.
“You’re never surprised by the business side of the NFL,” McAllister said. “But, believe me, the deal will get done and he will be the quarterback of a very good team.”
The contract hangup, he said, is probably not about the Saints’ and general manager Mickey Loomis’ reluctance to give Brees what ever he wants.
“You’ve got to remember, his job is to make sure he has enough flexibility under the (salary) cap to put good players around Drew Brees. But it will get done.”
That would be good news for everybody, even an athlete from the other end of the athletic spectrum who was also inducted Saturday night.
Asked what Louisiana meant to him, jockey Mark Guidry replied, “Go Saints.”
The accent, however, suggested that what he really said was “Geaux Saints.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com