Have you ever noticed that any movie about football is based in the South? Think of all great football movies… “Remember the Titans”… “We Are Marshall”… “Friday Night Lights”… “The Blind Side”. Every single one of those movies is based on towns or teams in the South. I always thought it was because people liked to hear the Southern accents of the characters. Having now lived in the South, I realize it’s not the accents… it’s because Southerners truly are fanatical about football.
When we moved to New Orleans, I think I had a vague idea of who their football team was. The New Orleans… uummm, what was it again? Oh yeah… the Saints. (Listen close, you can almost hear a collective gasp of air from the natives as I utter such sacrilegious words). Truth be told, three years ago I couldn’t have told you who the Saints were, what colors their jerseys were, who played for them or if they were good or bad… well, I could probably guess they weren’t very good as I didn’t know much about them. Well let me tell you, have I gotten an education.
People of New Orleans LOVE their Saints. Never before have I witnessed such devotion to a football team. Denver Bronco fans don’t even come close. From what I understand, the Saints have been a historically, shall we say, not-so-great team. And yet, their fans and this city love them.
If you haven’t noticed, and by this point in time I’m sure you already have, this has been quite the year for the Saints. They started off winning games and just kept winning. While I had been aware of the devotion that runs deep for the Saints, it was around November that I started to really notice what I would consider fanatical behavior… large blow up Saints players in yards, you know, like the Santas on motorcycles during Christmas only this was a Saints player with a football; banners, flags, and what I consider to be the most intriguing: messages started to show up on people’s cars… 8-0! 9-0!… 12-0! 13-0! People were putting the teams win/loss record in shoe polish on their car windows. Now I understand that the Saints have never before had such a record, but I couldn’t believe people would plaster it all over their cars. Even after the team lost a couple of games, I still saw cars with 13-2 or 13-3 on their windows. Devotion.
The night the Saints won the NFC championship game, you would have thought they had already won the Super Bowl. As Jeff and I drove home, fire works are exploding in every direction, people are celebrating in the streets and car horns are blaring. It was a moment that a city had waited for for 42 years and they were relishing the moment. It was neat to be a part of it.
I can’t say I’m ever going to be a huge football fan or that I’ve learned everything about every player, but sometime this fall our little family became Saints fans and our blood now runs black and gold.