Fans of the New Orleans Saints know kicker Garrett Hartley well. Despite having some ups and downs throughout his career since he joined New Orleans in 2008, Hartley became an instant hero in the 2009 NFC Championship game when he kicked a 40-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime to send the Saints to their first Super Bowl appearance ever. I will never forget watching that kick sail through the air and then the cameras came back to Hartley and backup quarterback Mark Brunell celebrating wildly.
It was iconic, and it was great.
Even if New Orleans would not have gone on to win the Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts Hartley would have forever been remembered and always looked upon as a hero to the team and to the city.
Unfortunately for Hartley, however, his heroics just a few seasons ago were not enough to save him from his most recent slump. Waived earlier in the week and replaced by Shayne Graham, his immediate future is unsure.
What is sure, however, is that this shows just how serious Sean Payton and the Saints are this season. There is a standard that must that must be met. Hartley was not cutting it, so New Orleans let him go in search of greener pastures. It is a bit sad, but it would be hard to argue against it.
I am not sure if Hartley was entirely to blame as the offense and defense have had their woes this season, especially on the road. Hopefully the message will get through to the rest of the players and the Saints will be able to figure out their troubles and correct their deficiencies. Only time will tell, but unfortunately time is running short for New Orleans to figure out what troubles them.