The New Orleans Saints and Their Fans Have Settled Into an “Us Against the World” Mentality – Over the years, I’ve developed a certain amount of disdain for the New Orleans Saints. It may have started with Reggie Bush taunting Chicago Bears’ Linebacker Brian Urlacher, then flipping into the end zone and dancing at Soldier Field during the 2006 NFC Title Game. The Bears won that game 39-14, and I took much pride in the beating my hometown team laid on the upstart Saints. It was certainly ramped up a notch during the 2007 & 2008 seasons, where the teams met in two late season games that didn’t have much meaning at the time, but were nevertheless exciting affairs. The Bears won both meetings, 33-25 and 27-24, respectively.
More fire was added to the fury during the 2009 Postseason as I sat back and watched in disgust as the Saints defense absolutely pummeled two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks – the Arizona Cardinals’ Kurt Warner and the Minnesota Vikings’ Brett Favre.
Words can’t quite describe the joy I felt in the 2010 Wild Card Matchup between New Orleans and Seattle, when Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch gave a highlight for the ages – running roughshod through the ENTIRE Saints defense on his way to scoring a 67 yard touchdown (“GET OFF ME! He says to Tracy Porter!” – LOL).
The hate was brought to a fever pitch in Week 2 of the 2011 season, when Bears’ QB Jay Cutler was roughed up and kicked in the throat during the game, and Roman Harper landed a helmet to chest blow on Bears’ wideout Earl Bennet, causing him to miss a substantial amount of time (great job youtube – no video evidence I could link to for these events).
Now let me get this point across before Who Dat Nation gets their panties in a bunch – none of the events listed above has affected how I evaluate the team. Drew Brees is one of my top favorite quarterbacks of all time. While Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have hogged the spotlight, Brees has been consistently dominant for 6 consecutive seasons, breaking Dan Marino’s passing yardage record last season after coming close a few times during the previous seasons.
Sean Payton is one of the most gifted offensive minds the NFL has ever seen. The scheme and the weaponry he has armed Brees with is the biggest factor in their success. These two combined have provided a potent mix for the Saints. Their fans should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. Their 2009 Super Bowl run is NOT tainted by the Bounty Scandal in my view.
However, I am getting a kick out of pointing and laughing at their current predicament. Suspensions arising from their Bounty Program has left the organization in shambles. Sean Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 season. How will the Saints cope with this loss? Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune shares the details:
To honor their absent leader, team officials have purposefully left vacant the chairs in the draft room and team meeting rooms. They’ll do the same with his seats on the team bus and plane during the season.
So, instead of using this suspension as an example of what NOT to do as the leader of a football team, the New Orleans Saints have chosen to treat Sean Payton like a fallen soldier during his season-long absence. Brilliant. Stay classy New Orleans.