It has been quite a week at 5800 Airline Highway. Excuse me — 5800 Airline Drive, the address in Metairie that’s the unique home of both the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans. Tom Benson proprietor.
So it should have been no surprise that when Saints coach Sean Payton spoke following Saturday’s morning session of the team’s rookie minicamp, he wound up fielding basketball questions.
What do you think about the firing of Pelicans coach Monty Williams?
“I’m a huge fan of Monty’s,” Payton said. “So you’re going to get a biased opinion with me talking. I’ve sent him a few text messages, and I’m sure we’ll have some more time and visit. ... It’s one of the tough things about our profession.”
And then there was the inevitable question about Deflategate.
While none of the New England Patriots coaches were penalized for Tom Brady’s misdeeds, surely Payton, who drew a year’s suspension for his role in Bountygate, must have an opinion about the punishment handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell. Right?
Well, if Payton has one — and you know he does — he was keeping it to himself.
“I knew that question was coming,” he said. “We went through that process three years ago, and I’m sure they’re going through one right now. But our focus right now is our team. We’ve got enough problems of our own to solve.”
Nice pass off, Coach. But if you ever want to tell us what you really think, we’re anxious to know.
Other sights and sounds from Saturday:
-- Of the team’s draft picks, only tackle Andrus Peat, the team’s No. 13 selection, remains unsigned.
But should Peat suffer an injury during minicamp, league rules require a team to negotiate with him in good faith as if he were uninjured. That was the case last week, when Jacksonville’s Dante Fowler Jr., the No. 3 pick in the draft, suffered a torn ACL 30 minutes into the first day of workouts and was lost for the year.
Tight end Jeff Heuerman, Denver’s third-round pick, suffered a similar injury.
“That’s really unfortunate,” Peat said. “But it’s something I try not to think about. Nobody does.”
-- Some guys you just can’t wait to see on the field.
Linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, the Saints’ second-round draft pick from Washington, should be contending for a starting role. But what’s he really looking forward to is being on special teams, something he didn’t do with the Huskies.
“I never got a chance to hit anybody going full-speed,” Kikaha said. “It was always just 5 yards, 4 yards going upfield. But special teams is such an adrenaline rush. You can get knocked out, but I’m still pretty excited about it.”
Almost as much as we are.
-- Rookie minicamps always feature a large number of invitees — players who didn’t even rate signing free-agent contracts. Only a few will last through the OTAs and regular minicamp to make it to training camp in West Virginia.
But, like the others, running back Centarius Donald from Louisiana-Monroe is giving it his best shot. But it’s for a little-heard reason.
Donald hails from Columbia, about 30 miles south of Monroe. Caldwell Parish High School isn’t known for producing top athletes. Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Pam Kelly is heads a short list, and she last played more than 30 years ago.
Donald, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder who led ULM in rushing as a senior with 606 yards, wants to join that list.
“First off, I grew up a big Saints fan,” he said. “Big Deuce (McAllister) inspired me when I was young and I loved all the others, so it’s a dream come true just walking in this locker room.
“Nobody in my community ever got this far, and that kind of hit my heart. I’m really doing this for my community.”
Good luck, Centarius. Caldwell Parish is counting on you.
-- Back to basketball.
Williams’ firing was done by Mickey Loomis, who serves as executive vice president of both teams.
Since Payton and Loomis talk every day, surely Payton must give his input on basketball issues — particularly restructuring things so that the new coach will report directly to General Manager Dell Demps, much as is the case in football.
“Nope, nope, nope,” Payton said. “They only time I’m talking basketball with Mickey is when I get two tickets.”
You know, considering the way the Saints played last season, Payton’s right.
Just stick to football.