Monday, February 8, 2010

Cadillac Mescallade: Saints Leave Mark On Football World

For a long time making the playoffs was the dream, and then it was winning a playoff game, and then an NFC Championship, and then for nights like Sunday Night in Miami.

Years of losing and underachieving breed a cautious attitude. You see it in the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Clippers, and a host of other franchises. But something is very different about the New Orleans Saints. For anyone that was just introduced to the black and gold in the last two weeks, this is a city and a franchise of eternal optimism. Perhaps it took such an unfortunate event like Katrina to reveal what many have always seem to know in the Bayou, the best day might only be a day away. It's what the people seem to believe and it's surely what these fans believe. The all-too-often 3-13 seasons and the 8-8 ledgers marking a good year have given way to what happened in South Florida in Super Bowl 44.

The New Orleans Saints played like a true underdog on the road to their first title in franchise history. They were forced to overcome a 10 point deficit, amazingly a record for the largest overcome deficit in Super Bowl history. They were gutsy, they relied on a young kicker to pile up the points, their small college receivers to make big-man-on-campus plays, the redemption of Jeremy Shockey, the reclamation of Jonathan Vilma, the revelation of Tracy Porter and even some trickery. An onside kick had never happened before the fourth quarter in Super Bowl, until Sunday night when the Saints executed it to perfection to open the second half. Those are the risks that needed to be taken. Credit coach Sean Payton for pressing the right buttons on this magical machine.

They had to look right into the eyes of Peyton Manning, one of the game's elite, a man that had carved up the AFC en route to a Super Bowl berth, and topple this Goliath. Saints quarterback and game MVP Drew Brees, who turned in a night near flawless, hoisted a Super Bowl trophy and called upon fate to help describe what happened to this New Orleans franchise. That sounds about right to me.

A lot of dominoes had to fall into place to make a title a reality for the New Orleans Saints. The stories have been told, but the Dolphins had to pass on Brees, Saints owner Tom Benson had to keep the Saints in Louisiana, and Peyton Manning had to commit just one mistake. Perhaps that last part seemed so unlikely. Manning was one last drive away from ascending to the right hand of Joe Montana among the great postseason quarterbacks, until of course Tom Brady returns to the conversation. Like any good action movie has shown us where good overcomes evil, or in this case just less good, there is always a fatal flaw in the enemy. For this battle it was the Manning interception, a true pick six for the defensive back Porter, and the final sealant on a win for the Saints. In the interim the less talked about quarterback Drew Brees firmly planted his name in the conversation of the games greats at the quarterback position.

But more than Brees rights or Manning's wrongs was the resolution of this battle, a win for fate, a title for America's Team, America's New Team. Who Dat, you ask rhetorically? The New Orleans Saints of course. The kids in New Orleans have the day off from school on Monday, the fleur de lis flew in the Vatican on Super Bowl Sunday, the onside kick worked, the paper bags will return to the grocery store, this was fate, belief, and hardwork all rolled into one. Lastly,the "S" becomes permanently affixed to the left side of "AINTS" and never shall the two separate because lest we ever forget the New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl Champions.

-Posted by Cadillac Mescallade

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