Look, even before the reason behind Mark Ingram's sideline blow up became clear there was reason to believe that his beef with the decision to give Tim Hightower the chance to seal the victory near the goal line was legitimate. I know that sounds hypocritical coming from someone that who was less than pleased with Brandin Cooks' passive aggressive plea for more usage on social media, but - in actuality - the two situations aren't remotely similar.
For starters, Mark Ingram has spent his entire professional career battling for carries in a pass happy offense. You might not be inclined to believe it if you talk to enough unappreciative Saints fans, but he has gotten better in every single aspect of the game in order to provide more versatility to an offense whose success is predicated on the unpredictable. Despite all that, he's still hasn't been trusted to shoulder the load of a lead back (granted that description has changed in recent years) and not once has he been as volatile about it publicly. We are talking about a guy that responded to a benching in one of the most important games of the year by shutting his mouth and having the performance of his career one week later. It should have been obvious he wasn't just upset that he didn't get one more chance to score immediately after his team had all-but-won. Hell, if years of selflessness weren't enough to prove he had a point than Sean Payton consoling him instead jawing back like the ruthlessly correct son of a bitch that he thinks he is should have been enough to show you who was really in the right. So when I saw this tweet I can't say I was surprised...
I mean, I was shocked in the sense that Sean Payton has never not been keenly aware of an offensive statistic that's even mildly meaningful, but I wasn't shocked that Mark Ingram's gripe was rooted in an acceptable amount of selfishness. Now, seeing as Mark Ingram carried the ball inside the 5 just one play earlier I don't think that the Saints head coach was actively sabotaging six figure incentives in his player's contracts with as many as two whole games left, but I can definitely understand why Mark Ingram would be pissed that he unintentionally did. With what he's been asked to sacrifice he deserved the opportunity to pad his bank account. He'll likely get the chance to do so anyway, but his injury history and an inconsistent amount of touches make that far from a certainty. Sean Payton could have - and even should have - put to rest the elephant in the room by using the superior player to ice a victory. I refuse to believe his failure to do so had anything to do with saving the franchise $100K, but a guy that has always put the team first deserved better. Hopefully he'll get it at the expense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week, because I can respect a player with Mark Ingram's past showing that kind of emotion when he feels he's been wronged.