Monday, February 08, 2010

Hell Has Frozen As Saints Win Super Bowl

We have all waited for this. Every Saints fan out there has patiently waited for this moment. It is the single most imaginary idea we could ever comprehend. The idea that someday the New Orleans Saints would win the Super Bowl. Someday all the stars would align. Someday Hell would freeze.

The most gratifying thing about this victory is how it rewards those lifetime fans. I always think about my dad. He has been following the Saints since they first came to the NFL in 1967. I think about the stories he would tell me on how as a kid he would passionately watch the team each Sunday...only to be disappointed by another loss. The losses were so common and frequent that as my dad would tell me he just got use to losing and watching the Saints fail in the end. As my dad would tell me he had to put the Saints in a place that they could not hurt him like they had done countless times in the past. He, along with some many other life long Saints fans, had to become accustomed to the team losing a game right at the team, the team giving up the Hail Mary when a win seemed definite, and a team missing an extra point moments after one of the greatest plays in NFL history took place.

But that all changed Sunday. It died. Even before the game my dad told me that his brothers and him officially said the old Saints were dead. Beating the Vikings killed the past. All my dad ever wanted this season was for the Saints to get to the Super Bowl. Winning it? Yes, he wanted it, but it was still so far removed from reality. I think when it finally did hit him it was euphoric. I watched the game down on Bourbon Street while my family watched it up in Ohio so I never got to watch the game with my dad. But from what I heard when the Saints did win my dad was the same little kid that grew up watching the Saints every Sunday. Only this time he was not disappointed.

For much of my childhood I remained confident that one day the Saints would capture the ultimate prize. My friend Jonny, an avid Patriots fan, and I spent our entire childhood living and breathing football (we still do). We would play those Madden video games and win Super Bowls with our teams and hope that one day the Saints and Patriots would win the big one. Heck, I even made fantasy Saints Super Bowl moments in my head. In this fantasy world, the Seattle Seahawks were beating the Saints 15-13 and it was late in the fourth quarter. Seattle was fixing to score a touchdown to put the game away. The Saints would intercept a pass and return it for six points. The Saints would win 20-15 and become Super Bowl champs.

But it was only a dream. (How strange is it to see that last night the Saints clinched the game with an interception late in the game.)

I did find some salvation when Jonny's Patriots finally did win the big one in 2001. I remember being so excited that one of our teams actually won it. All Jonny's dedication paid off.

But I still craved that moment. I will admit I did lose hope when Hurricane Katrina happened. Things were so bleak that I began to leave my fantasy childhood world that they will win the Super Bowl someday and began to start to take a more cynical approach. It must of only been a year ago when Jonny and I had this conversation.

Jonny: "Saints will win the Super Bowl one year. It will happen."

Me: "No man they won't."

Jonny: "One year it will all just come together."

I remember being upset with him and how he was foolishly optimistic. But now as I look at it I can see it for what it is. Jonny was right. It all just happened. For one year it all just came together. All the hopes my dad and I had as a kid finally took place.

Finally, the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Who Dat.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Three Days Until Kickoff

One year ago the Arizona Cardinals made the improbable trip to the Super Bowl. I wrote an article about how important it was for the Cardinals to have made the trip. I highlighted the importance of every fan of every doormat team to root for Arizona because if the Arizona Cardinals can make it to the Super Bowl anyone can. Every Lion, Brown, and Saint fan saw that Super Bowl and saw optimism. That Super Bowl symbolized more than a team making the improbable run to the Super Bowl, it symbolized hope.

The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers, but still their impact was felt everywhere. I remember writing on my blog a phrase along the lines off, "after the Cardinals recent incredible run to the Super Bowl, I can not help but wonder when will the Saints make their run?"

Who would of thought that it would actually happen. By now insanity is settling in as I grow more and more anxious for the Super Bowl. I do my best to evaluate this game as much as I can. There's the part of me that sees Peyton Manning and how he's nothing short of a computer. How, when given the chance and time, he will pick apart a defense. I look at the fact that in his last two games against the Saints he has played incredible. In the last two games Manning has thrown for 9 touchdowns and his team has won by an average score of 48-16. I look at that, plus how this New Orleans Saints defensive unit lives and dies with the turnover. I take that all in and think Manning rarely turns it over. That thought scares me.

Then there's the other half. The half that sees Drew Brees and how last week was a bad game for him. When those games happen he comes out firing on all cylinders the next week. I see an Indianapolis defense that has some young cornerbacks as well as an All-Pro defensive lineman banged up. Then I hear it from everyone. Every media outlet, every radio station, every man on television (except a few)on why the Saints will not win, on why the New Orleans Saints got to the Super Bowl and that's all that matters. They are not here to win. I take that all in and I think to myself about the only thing that really matters when looking at this game.

They have a chance.