Next up in our Saints Blogger Series is Grandmaster Wang from moosedenied. Don’t ask me what his fake name means, and don’t ask me what his blog name means either, I have no idea. All I know is he’s really smart, he’s really funny, he’s profane, and he writes about the Saints a lot. So what’s not to like? Wang also boasts that creepy picture on the left as his twitter account avatar. Enjoy his Q&A below as we continue to suffer through the offseason, and remember, Wang’s IQ probably trumps yours by more than 100 points so it’s wise to accept what he says as gospel. I’m also fairly certain he’s spent at least two nights in Jed Collins’ bed while the Saints fullback was out of town.
Saints Nation: Alright man – tell us about you. What made you become a Saints fan? How long have you been one?
Wang: Saints fan since I was old enough to know what football is. I was born (a poor black child) at East Jefferson General and grew up in LaPlace, so I really never stood much of a chance against Saints and LSU football becoming a fundamental part of my very being. There’s a video somewhere at moosedenied of me opening a Christmas present at 3 years old. It was a Saints jacket. Never stood a chance. Good thing I’m just fine with it.
Saints Nation: Tell us about Moosedenied. What made you decide to start it? Where can we find your stuff?
Wang: It was actually a domain I already had laying around just waiting for me to do something with it. In my formative years on this here internet, I bounced around the message boards and became somewhat of a “regular” on a couple. Started out at nola.com way back in the mid-90s under the name “27B Stroke 6.” That board started to devolve, so I left. Had a cup of coffee at Whodatzone, then ended up at Saintsreport (which at the time was known as Iron Era) under the name “Chairman_LMAO.” Somewhere along the line, for any number of reasons, posting at Saintsreport got to the point where it just wasn’t any fun anymore. But bloviating about the Saints will never not be fun, so I decided to set up shop for myself and see if anybody would ever notice. Fortunately, a handful of people did. Changed my nom de plume yet again and went to great pains to resist the urge to “advertise” on message boards because I was really interested in the whole “if you build it, they will come” factor, to see what kind of audience I could build without having to rely on the built-in audience message boards offer, and without any pre-existing factors (positive or negative) related to any of my previous lives as Message Board Guy. I wanted to build it from the ground up and see where it ended up. So far, no complaints.
Saints Nation: What makes your blog better than any other Saint outlet you can find on the interwebs? Or at the very least, what makes it different?
Wang: Oh, it’s definitely not any “better.” But different, yeah, I’ll take that. Different is all I really strive for, the only official “goal” or whatever. I try to avoid just rehashing the latest Saints news like so many of the other nine thousand Legitimate Media™ outlets and blogs do. I just don’t see any point in that. And while occasionally I’ll indulge myself in offering something vaguely resembling “analysis” I certainly don’t fancy myself some kind of expert on football. I’m just a Saints fan who pays reasonably close attention 365 days a year is all. I’ve got my opinions just like the next guy, and all I really set out to do is offer Saints-themed commentary that’s unlike anything you’re gonna find anywhere else. Otherwise, why even bother? It’s not for everybody, obviously. Lots of people aren’t particularly fond of the gratuitous profanity (heh) and lots of people don’t find my particular brand of amateur/hack comedy even remotely funny. Which is fine, you’re never gonna be able to please everybody. I’m just happy when somebody thinks it doesn’t completely suck. But ultimately, I really just do this to amuse myself anyway. I’m not the least bit concerned with being the biggest or “best” or turning a profit or anything like that.
Saints Nation: Jeff Duncan is always boasting about how he’s “not a fan” and he just reports the stories. He claims his detachment from the team makes him better because he’s an unbiased reporter. Do you buy that? Can you be a fan and still be a good reporter of the team you cover?
Wang: Yeah, I totally buy that, and I think it’s great that there are guys who take that approach. One of my more unpopular mantras that I’m sure people are sick and tired of hearing me state repeatedly, usually when some Legitimate Media™ type or another is taking himself way too seriously, is “It’s just sports. It ain’t freakin’ Watergate. It’s show business, for crying out loud.” Sportswriters aren’t Woodward & Bernstein. They’re more like John Tesh & Mary Hart. Sports is entertainment, and sportswriters cover the entertainers. It ain’t war, it ain’t government corruption, there’s no grand journalistic “search for truth” or any of that stuff sportswriters tell themselves when they wanna feel like they’re Walter freakin’ Cronkite. There aren’t any human rights abuses hiding behind Sean Payton’s lying about this week’s injury report. (etc.) But at the same time, there’s definitely a need for unbiased truth-telling in the media, regardless of the topic. We consumers want the truth, much as we might deny it and take aim at the messenger when the truth isn’t to our liking. We still want to know, or to think we know, anyway. And every now and then a rare situation arises (San Antonio immediately comes to mind) that, in certain ways, kinda does rise to the level of something like Watergate. In that kind of situation, it’s absolutely crucial for there to be people who are emotionally-detached and whose goal is to shine the light of truth on unpleasant facts that are being intentionally withheld from the public. And on a day-to-day basis, there’s a need for critical analysis and commentary that isn’t colored by a particular affection for the entertainers. It’s something that fans, no matter how hard they/we might try, just aren’t capable of. Not that Legitimate Media™ types don’t still have their own biases, no matter how much they might deny it. After all, how can you help but to love Dulymus? Michael Lewis? Steve Gleason? How many times have we seen veiled references from “unbiased” media types about how Jeremy Shockey is a huge jerk, or crying about Sean Payton being some kind of Nazi? People accused Duncan (specifically) of “hating” Reggie Bush for half a decade. In my opinion, it’s impossible to be impeccably 100% unbiased and impartial. And it’s damn sure impossible, despite your best efforts, to control public perception of the degree to which you succeed at being as unbiased and impartial as you possibly can. But I’m glad that there are people like Duncan who try. All perspectives are valuable, whether it’s a homer with his heart on his sleeve like Buddy Diliberto, or a basketball guy from Kentucky.
Saints Nation: What’s your routine for staying on top of Saints news? Nola.com? Canal Street? Twitter? If a fan wanted advice on the best way to follow the Saints, what would you tell them. ($5 pay off if you mention Saints Nation in this response)
Wang: All of the above, including Saints Nation of course. I’ve got a morning ritual that goes like this, in order: ESPN.com, theadvocate.com/sports, nola.com/saints, nola.com/lsu, sportsnola.com, (check the comments & stats at) moosedenied, Canal Street Chronicles, the-pool-party.com, TigerDroppings, and Saintsreport (if only to scan the perpetual copy/paste jobs on the front page to see if I’ve missed anything from anywhere else, and then to scan the subject lines on the message board in a usually-fruitless attempt to find something that might be worth clicking.) At one point I tried to get all that set up in Google Reader for the sake of convenience, but as is usually the case, it only made it far less convenient than just hitting up each site individually. I tend to leave an open tab in my browser all day long for each of: CSC, Saintsreport and The Pool Party, and every now and then when I’ve got a spare minute or two I’ll refresh to see if there’s any BREAKING NEWS! Meantime, after I get a little work done, then I’ll try to hit up everybody on my blogroll every day, time permitting. And of course Twitter is always up, though I don’t follow any athletes, entertainers or any other “famous” people. And that includes Saints players. Not even Morstead (though I do find myself tempted several times a week.) I’ve tried, but there’s just very little “there” there. Any tweets from Saints players I need to see, I’ll see via retweet and/or CSC’s Fleur de Links.
Saints Nation: Let’s talk a little Saints. Brees is obviously coming back. What about Nicks & Colston?
Wang: Not a damn clue at this point. Seems to me (and pretty much everybody else) that Nicks should be and will be priority #2, and the one who’s most likely to get tagged. From there, I assume that Colston will get whatever’s left over. If it’s enough, he’ll stay, and if it’s not, he’ll walk. But if there’s one thing we can count on every single offseason, it’s that Mickey Loomis will throw us a curveball or ten. Letting Drew walk is really more of a knuckleball, and everybody’s pretty sure there’s no way in hell he’s dropping one of those on us. But beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.
Saints Nation: Besides retaining key parts, what changes would you like to see the Saints make this offseason?
Wang: If there’s ever a time when you ought to just stand pat and roll with exactly what you rolled with last year, it’s when you had the most prolific offense in NFL history. So I’m hoping that Nicks, Colston and Meachem are all back. (Pending the specifics, of course.) On defense, I’m not necessarily convinced that sweeping changes are needed (beyond the changes to the defensive coaching staff, that is.) But at the same time, I’ll embrace all the change I can get. I won’t be shedding any tears if the Saints part ways with any combination of Will Smith, Sedrick Ellis and (much as I love the guy) Jonathan Vilma. I’m all for a youth movement on defense. I’d like to see Junior Galette and Martez Wilson get a lot more playing time at the very least, or even being named full-time starters. I’d like to see a lot more of Isa Abdul-Quddus as well. I still love Roman Harper, but I wonder if a baseball-style “platoon system” might be in order, with IAQ in on downs where Spags determines that more of a two-deep look with both safeties in coverage is called for. I’d like to see a renewed emphasis on fundamentals. I’d like to see a renewed “nobody’s job is safe” mentality. I’d like to see the whole “We made the plays when we needed to!” nonsense go away and be replaced by an “This just in: EVERY SNAP is when you need to!” mentality take hold. I want to see younger, hungrier guys on the field more often. I want to see more speed, more smarts, and more effort. And I’d REALLY like to see the Saints find the equivalent of Darren Sproles to Sedrick Ellis’s Reggie Bush, in terms of interior pass rush.
Saints Nation: After winning the Super Bowl, how do you feel about the 2010 and 2011 seasons overall?
Wang: They were great, both of ‘em. I mean, 11-5 and 13-3, what’s not to love? The Championship (high five!) changed an awful lot of things, but the ability to appreciate 11-5 and 13-3 in consecutive seasons ought not be one of ‘em. A Kobe porterhouse doesn’t ruin your appreciation of a thick, juicy burger, does it? A Very Special Evening with Angelina Jolie doesn’t make you turn your nose up at a Very Special Evening with Scarlett Johansson. I’m always leery of people who assert that “Once you’ve had the best, it’s impossible to settle for (even a little bit) less.” What a crappy way to go through life. It’s different when it’s an actual Saints player or coach saying it, because that’s the attitude they’re supposed to have. And they’re in a position to actually do something about it. Their goal is supposed to be “Championship or Bust” every single year. But we’re just fans. Saints fans, no less. Championships are special because they don’t just happen annually. Not that there’s anything wrong with “demanding excellence” and whatnot (to whatever extent we fans are in a position to “demand” anything in the first place.) But if, as a Saints fan, you can no longer appreciate and enjoy 24-8 over the two seasons immediately following a Championship, you might as well just check out and wait for the wake-up call the next time there’s a Lombardi Gras. We’ll all be rolling our eyes at you and talking about you behind your back though when you can’t name half the guys on the next Championship roster.
Saints Nation: #wegotthis has been your theme all year. I love the positivity. You sticking with that going into the 2012 season?
Wang: Absolutely. Because I’m a total homer. And I offer no apologies for that. But last season, it wasn’t just about my typical homeriffic outlook on Saints football. In this particular case, I genuinely believed it. Didn’t we all believe it over the second half of 2011? And not without good reason either. Short of Drew Brees leaving in free agency, I see no reason not to carry that attitude into 2012. This team kicks lots and lots of ass (even occasionally on defense) and has been for a long time now. They’re a bona fide perennial contender these days. And I see little if any evidence that that’s about to change anytime soon. (Also, I’m compelled to point out that #wegotthis isn’t a Wang thing. Far as I know, it’s a @skooks thing. I’m just playing along and riding his coattails because I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment.)
Saints Nation: Anything else you want to communicate to Saints Nation’s 17 fans?
Wang: 4 8 15 16 23 42