Having grown up through the 80s and 90s in New Orleans, one got used to the fact that the Saints were not going to the Super Bowl. Even though hope springs eternal every year, you always knew deep down that this wasn't going to be the year. A belief that the team usually confirmed fairly early in the season. Even in the years where the team had promise, the inevitable failure came (remember the season where they lost three games to miss the playoffs, one of those games to the lowly Detroit Lions). I can still vividly remember the "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" quote after a Saints/Cowboy game as well as the original "Woulda, coulda, shoulda" tirade from Jim Mora.
With no other professional sports franchise in the area when I was growing up, it was every boy's dream (or it should have been) to play for the Saints in a Superbowl. There were no other teams to challenge the Saints hold on the Big Easy's populations, and their hard luck seasons embodied the laid back attitude of the city and its eternal faith.
Then came Katrina, and the laughing stopped. I had moved out of the city many years before, but I still had family there. Watching the news, hearing from people still in the city, and then later seeing the devastation first hand brought me to tears. Hang outs, favorite restaurants, and former friends and acquaitances - gone. Lost to the winds and waters. The city needed something as a diversion, to get away from the ever-present reminders of the devastation. Mardi Gras helped, but that only lasts two weeks. The Saints could be more. However, it was not to be for the next four years. The Superdome was repaired, but the voodoo curse had not blown away.
With the incredible run at the beginning of this season, the silent demon seemed to fade away. This may just be the year. Then came the three losses at the end of the season, and the demon came screaming back. Even a crushing victory over the Cardinals could not silence those nagging doubts. After all, there was Mr. Comeback, Brett Favre and his purple posse with their own complete set of storylines and Super Bowl ambitions.
Four quarters and some five minutes later, the demon was dead. Finally silenced through a series of plays and perhaps some Divine Intervention leading to the 40 yard strike off the foot of Garrett Hartley. There were shouts of joy from my household, and yes, there were again tears for the city. But these were tears of relief, of disbelief, and incredible joy. To paraphrase long time Saints play by play man Jim Henderson (who I grew up watching on WWL-TV), Hell has frozen over, the Saints are going to the Super Bowl. And unless you are from south Louisiana, you have no idea how good it feels to type that.
New World Mike - Member of the Who Dat Nation - Eastern NC chapter.
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