Why are Saints bringing back Deuce?

NEW ORLEANS – I’ve been pondering this one ever since I got the news that the Saints have re-signed Deuce McAllister as I was boarding a plane in Tampa a couple of hours ago. Even as the pilot repeatedly announced, “We’re going to circle Louis Armstrong Airport while we wait for Air Force Two to take off," this was all I could think about.

The Saints have brought back the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and one of the nicest guys to ever play in the NFL.


That’s where I’ve been totally stuck for the last couple of hours. On the surface, all the indications I’ve been able to get are that this is nothing more than a public relations move. A brilliant one, but nothing more than that.

But I’m having a really tough time digesting that. Coach Sean Payton has indicated that McAllister will be inactive for Saturday’s playoff game against Arizona and his main role will be to lead the Saints onto the field.

Again, it’s brilliant. But when have the Saints ever made a move with public relations in mind? Seriously, when they had a chance to grab the international stage in London last year, they served up three players, all at the same time, for five minutes a day and spent the rest of the time in a bunker. If this was really about public relations, they could top it by signing Archie Manning and making him the inactive third quarterback for Saturday.

But that’s the only move that could top bringing back McAllister. He’s an icon in New Orleans and up and down the Gulf Coast. It’s great that he’ll lead the Saints onto the field and that’s going to fire up a Superdome crowd that already was going to be fired up.

But I’ve got to admit, I’m wondering if there’s something up their sleeve here. Are Pierre Thomas’ ribs really healed? Are Mike Bell, Reggie Bush and Lynell Hamilton totally healthy?

It sure didn’t look like McAllister had much left as he hung around the sidelines last season. Maybe this really is all about public relations and motivation and that's not a bad thing. But the Saints already have cheerleaders. If McAllister is just going to be one of the cheerleaders, I’ll believe it Saturday when I see him standing on the sidelines.