Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback, has been added to the 2013 Pro Bowl roster. This comes after rookie sensation Robert Griffin III went down with a torn ACL and LCL in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Not a single decent fan of the Saints or the NFL would hope to have this happen to RGIII or watch a player worthy of the accolades like Brees back in to the Pro Bowl. It’s a bitter pill to swallow with a touch of sweetness. The New Orleans Saints 2012 was anything, but a friendly companion down a long winding road. While many fans felt like it was a personal vendetta Goodell held all the way up to Pro Bowl voting, it’s something no one in New Orleans will likely ever know.
Most outside of New Orleans don’t think it’s some giant conspiracy to keep the Saints and their players from succeeding this past year. They call us babies, whiners, and sore losers. Those are some of the nicer names one could be called. It’s hard for other NFL fans outside of a few fan bases to understand how or why the Saints’ fans have taken the past year so personally
The New Orleans Saints have forever been the “aw shucks” kind of Bad News Bears type of losers all the way until Jim Mora Sr. took the Saints to their first playoff game in 1987. It took until 2000 for the Saints to win their first playoff game, and the rest, as they say, is history. The New Orleans Saints are more than just a group of players clad in black and gold. The Saints have always been more than just athletes to the people of New Orleans. They have always been a part of New Orleans. Whether it has been a player acting the fool around town or one of them going out on a bender downtown, they have always felt approachable. It’s been Jim Mora Sr. going off on a Times-Picayune reporter who deserved it (God, I miss those days), or Drew Brees walking through a restaurant shaking someone’s hand. That boundary between our heroes has always been easy to slip past for both players and fans. That is why this whole year has been hard to swallow.
In other cities, it’s Ra-Ra for the NFL team for the season and then on your merry way. New York has more teams than I have fingers. Atlanta has the Hawks and occasionally an NHL team. Dallas has the Cowboys, the Mavericks and the Stars. New Orleans has the Saints and the Pelicans/Hornets? New Orleans isn’t a basketball town, and I hate to say that, but it just isn’t. If New Orleans was a basketball town, the Utah Jazz wouldn’t be called the Jazz.
New Orleans has been and always will be a football town. For Saints’ fans it’s not just a favorite jersey or a favorite player, it’s an attitude and a belief. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in a time in which almost all seemed lost and the only light it seemed coming towards New Orleanians was a train, the Saints provided one of the most beautiful voices of hope that a team could ever voice. The Saints in 2006 weren’t just a team coming back, but a vessel of hope, of passion, and of never giving up. If the Saints weren’t in every house and room in New Orleans before 2006, then after that dreadful storm they most certainly were. Hope can come in many forms, and for the people of New Orleans it came in the form of a black and gold jersey that occasionally blocked punts in 2006. It was a year, a moment and space in time that transcends the game. Maybe that’s why this year has been so hard to stomach.
This isn’t just some stupid football team that makes winning boring and losing insufferable. This is the New Orleans Saints, the team that the NFL forgot in the city time forgot with a fan base that doesn’t know when to curse God and roll over to die. The tenacity and intensity that the Saints’ fans follow, support, and root for their team could easily match the fervor of any blood-thirsty warrior cheering for battle. For God’s sake, a quarter of our fans come to the games looking like they’re ready for Halloween, the Thunder Dome or Hell. Should the rest of America be surprised that the fans take it personally? How could Saints’ fans not? In one of our lowest moments as a city, a family, and collective being, the New Orleans Saints came through in a way in which most people fail horribly. Is the season that just passed personal? Of course it is. How could it not be for the fans of New Orleans, whose hearts pump black and gold everyday of the year?