It was hard to sleep on Saturday night. I was so excited, nervous, and worried. But I got up and got dressed in the morning - lots of layers and a heavy coat. We had a few errands to do, selling other tickets, going to a party at the Hilton, and having a few drinks at the Wabash Tap. At last we walked to the stadium - lots and lots of Saints fans there shouting "Who dat!" and singing "I believe!" A brass band showed up playing "When the Saints Go Marching In." My friends had their own seats down at the 5 yard line but I was up in the end zone alone. I was undaunted. I had on my Deuce McAllister jersey, a Saints sweatshirt, a cap, and a warm hat. I sat in my frozen seat with snow all over my back, and I talked to the people in my aread while waited for the game to start.
The first half was uneventful for me (one good drive and a couple of amazing catches), and the Bears' fans seemed disappointed in their boys. But the Bears were hitting hard and forcing the ball loose. They easily could have scored 28 points, but they only had 16. And the Saints still seemed to be controlling the game. Ironic.
At the half things were bad, but they certainly weren't over. Then they came out in the second half and scored that amazing touchdown. And just like that, the stadium got real quiet. Then Drew threw that pass out of the end zone and there was no one in sight. That play got the crowd riled. It started to really snow. Then Thomas Jones took over and started hitting holes and running like a man on fire. The only name heard on every defensive call was Brian Uhrlacher. He was everywhere, and he was unrelenting. I kept waiting for Deuce to run off tackle or Reggie to break one outside. But it didn't happen. We got farther and farther down. The Bears were prepared. They had us on our heels, and the game was over.
At first I was sad and disappointed. The season was over. Suddenly, however, I was (and still am) proud. We went from last place to SuperBowl contender in one season. In just 20 weeks, there was joy and happiness and most of those weeks were good ones because we were winning. All year we played hard. Every game mattered. This Sunday just wasn't our day. But next year we will be back. We will be ready. And next year, we get to hope again.
Bless you, boys. Thanks for a great ride.
For the inspirational effects of this team and this year on New Orleans read this. or this. or this. (H/T to Mr. Clio)
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