Monday, January 25, 2010

Cadillac Mescallade: A Dream Realized

A sports dream was realized on Sunday evening when the New Orleans Saints clinched a spot in their first ever Super Bowl with an overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The resiliency of an area ravaged not long ago by Hurricane Katrina finally cemented in the sports world with a legitimate victory. A true trophy to go along with all the moral and inspirational victories that have been piled up in recent years, and it's wonderful. Of all my teams, including the Knicks and the Mets, it was the Saints that seemed forever doomed to achieve something in the postseason. This year started off tremendously with a 13-0 beginning, but then three straight losses prior to the playoffs had the "Who Dat" nation a bit nervous.

After dispatching of the Arizona Cardinals, the Saints were in a spot similar to 2006, only this time, they won that NFC Title game and the impossible has been realized. Often cited as the worst team of all time in the NFL the Saints have gotten out of the proverbial cellar. They are no longer part of the trivia question of teams that have never been to a Super Bowl or those that never hosted an NFC Championship Game.

Anyone that has rooted for a team through thick and thin can truly appreciate what it is when a team finally gets over a huge hurdle. I know this isn't a Super Bowl Championship but for those that have rooted for teams that were mired in years of losing, it's all the more enjoyable. Nothing against what franchises like the Cowboys and Yankees have done, but there is just something extra special about getting to the promised land when it's been anything but your birthright.

There have been wonderful highs and great memories of Saints football over the last 15 years that I think of fondly. From a Jim Everett jersey on Christmas morning to the excitement of Ricky Williams on draft day, Mario Bates and Michael Haynes to the toppling of the then champion Rams and the fumble recovery of Brian Milne, the mobility of Aaron Brooks, the consistency of Joe Horn, and powering runs of Deuce McAllister. Reggie Bush's somersault TD against the Bears and Brees record setting 2008, all leading up to this past Sunday. Finally this New Orleans franchise and this city that's forever been waiting to have a hometown sporting event to compliment their endless party atmosphere has their day in the sun.

I'm routinely asked to explain my fanhood of the New Orleans Saints. In the lean years it was answering "why?" and in seasons like this, it's been fighting off "frontrunner" talk. Where did the Saints come from, living in the Northeast? It was a chance when teams were being decided to root for the underdog and for the team nobody cared about. The Jets, Giants, Bills, and Eagles were all spoken for among my friends, and the Saints were the equivalent of buying low, with the hopes of one day selling high.

Well, years removed from receiving that #17 jersey (which I still have), today we are offered the chance to sell very high, I think I'll hang tight, besides there is still some work to be done. Geaux Saints!

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