When I heard the words "professionalism" and "maturity" from Sean Payton and Drew Brees after Sunday's loss, wide receiver Joe Morgan was the first person that came to my mind. So his release came as absolutely no shock to me.
In fact, it was an encounter with him that a few of us in the local media had a few weeks ago that initially convinced me this was a different locker room than in years past. It was a Wednesday afternoon right after the news broke that Brandin Cooks' season was over. A natural storyline to that was who would step up in his absence?
Morgan was an obvious choice. He had deep speed and had made plays in the past. Thus, we located him in the locker room and asked for an interview. Pretty standard stuff.
He looked over at Kenny Stills and said, "Hey Kenny, I'm about to do my Popovich impersonation."
Quickly I knew what he meant. He was going to do the interview like Popovich traditionally does with sideline reporters during Spurs games. Nonetheless, we proceeded with the questions and right on cue he arrogantly proceeded with Popovich-style one word answers.
The one-worders continued for a few minutes. Some of the reporters found it funny. I would have too, had it been anybody else but Morgan. With Morgan, I found it to be completely unprofessional. Midway through I had enough and muttered "this is pointless" and walked off.
As I exited the group, I shook my head in disbelief.
First off, Joe Morgan is not Gregg Popovich. Pop has five rings and is one the NBA's best to ever coach. Morgan, at that point, had ONE catch on the season. Second and more importantly, here was a guy who was arrested for a DUI, had been suspended by the team earlier in the season and was lucky to still be on the roster. He should have gone above and beyond to fulfill his professional duties given he was on the thinnest of ice.
Instead, he found the time to jerk the media around who were there to ask POSITIVE questions. In his own mind he probably thought he was just being funny. But to me he was revealing his maturity level.
I left that day wondering just how many of these type of players were now in the Saints locker room and how much of that impacted the up and down season they were and still are having.
Last Sunday, I got my answer.
As for Morgan, it's simple. He didn't appreciate the multiple opportunities he was given and lost the privilege of being on the team.
Payton said it wasn't too late for personnel changes, and he wasn't lying. Time will tell just how long they will survive with Kenny Vaccaro on the bench.
But in parting ways with Morgan, Payton got the first move right.