The following is a re-post of an article I wrote some time ago, right before the Saints won the Super Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
I have been a New Orleans Saints football fan all my life. That hasn't always been easy. For many years, the Saints had losing season after losing season. There were times when fans in the Superdome wore bags over their heads, in mock shame over their team's poor performance. Of course, these bag-headed fans were at the game, cheering the Saints (the "Ain'ts") on anyway.
But this year has been differant. This year, I've been moved to strong emotion over this edition of the Saints, with guys like Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Robert Meacham, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell, Darren Sharper, Jonathan Vilma, Jeremy Shockey, hell, the whole team playing to an unprecedented 13-3 season.
By "strong emotion", I mean a curious mixture of pride, joy, and happiness that something so meaningless as a football game could make me cheer with unbridled passion. I was there with the rest of them, screaming like a lunatic, actually getting angry if the referee made a bad call, or the opposing team scored. I like what talk show host Limbaugh said when someone asked him why he liked football so much. He answered: "well, I'm like most guys in this. Most guys I know love to watch football, because it allows them to spend unlimited amounts of passion, with minimal or no consequences." That's me alright. Yeah, it's just a game, but it's the SAINTS! and I love 'em! And my! Was it a spectacular ride, or what? Who can forget the nail-biting win to the Redskins in OT?... being behind 24-3 to the Dolphins?... slugging it out with the Carolina Panthers in the Dome?... losing to Tampa Bay (!?!), also in the dome?... beating the Patriots on Monday night football, with the whole nation watching... The Saints offense rose to the top of the NFL, and our quarterback Drew Brees is or was the number one rated passer in the league. Yes, this season was great, far beyond my expectations, and if the Saints make the Super Bowl, that's just gravy...particularly tasty gravy.
But there's more to it than being a fan. The best way for me to illustrate this to you is to imagine the Superdome filled with proud Saints fans, all shouting their joy to the heavens, making a noise so loud that the sportscasters on the field cannot hear each other. Many outsiders have commented on the unique ferocity of our loyalty to "The Boys". Nowhere else, they say, have they found fans more vocal and more supportive. You can hear it if you watch them on TV. For some reason, when I see the Dome packed with thousands of fans, all or nearly all of them filled up with the team spirit in a collective voice like thunder at the end of the world, I feel an enormous uplifting in my own spirit, more proud than I've ever been to be a
Thank you, Sean Payton and team! And well, well done! Now, we're with you in the playoffs!