The Saints are my favorite team. There are no two ways about it. When I had had enough after the 92 season and yet another playoff loss, I said I was done with the disappointment and heartbreak and was going to root for another team. I sorta did, too. I began following the Philadelphia Eagles - back when they had Randall Cunningham and that really nasty defense. But they weren't my home town team. I still followed the Saints. I couldn't get away from it. On Sunday mornings I would drive or ride my bike down to the French Quarter to get a cup of iced coffee at Royal Blend and some beignets at Cafe' Du Monde. I made sure to get back home in time for the pregame show and watch the Saints if they were on TV. If they weren't on, I would have the radio blaring, visualizing the plays while I puttered around my apartment cleaning up from the night before. I never had enough money back then to go to a game unless someone gave me a ticket or we waited until after kickoff to get in.
In 2006 when the Saints made their run to the NFC Championship game in Chicago, I bought a ticket for an outrageous price, booked a flight and reserved a hotel room to go see the New Orleans Saints. It was a beautiful thing to be there with MY team. And sure there were some jerks. I didn't care. I didn't care that they lost - what they had done was so unbelievable and amazing and spirit lifting that I still can't forget the elation of walking into Soldier Field wearing my Deuce McAllister jersey. And though I was slightly deflated after the game was over, I still was able to hold my head high. The Saints had done all of their fans proud (except that Reggie flip into the end zone in Urlacher's face thing).
Once I moved from New Orleans, I took up the charge. After all, I am from New Orleans. The Saints are my team. I found a dive bar that had the Sunday Ticket. Every Sunday. Then I started going to a hotel Sports Bar. Then another and another - just to root for the Saints. I even found a mob bar that was shut down suddenly when the FBI took the owners to jail for god knows what crimes. I even bought a Sirius Satellite radio so I could listen to Jim and Hokie when we were traveling around the country.
I moved to PA and found a bar and another real life Saints fan to watch the games with. It's weird to have this thing, this love and passion for a team that no one anywhere around here feels. It's my kinship and birthright to be a Saints fan. So I am. And I will be from now on. I am here in Jets/Giants/Eagles country proudly wearing my black and gold (and shrimp boots!). I am sorry that I wavered in my faith in you. I hope you can accept my apologies.
Today I am wearing my Deuce jersey. I have on my Be A Saint t-shirt. I will have on a sweatshirt and drink Abita Amber. I will bring my two year old wearing his Drew Brees jersey with me to watch the game. I will encourage him to say "Who Dat!" and "Deuuuuuce!" I will order the Cajun Burger and not criticize the lack of flavor or depth. I will introduce myself to strangers and entertain them with stories of New Orleans and of the Saints. I will read blogs and learn statistics and memorize all the players names and numbers. I will bleed Black and Gold.
Today I am a Saints fan, proud, unabashed and unashamed. Today I will scream and cheer and laugh with people I don't know. Today, I will show some unsuspecting New Jerseyans what a person from New Orleans is like and I will display the grace and courtesy we show to all our visitors. I will show them the passion of a Saints fan, too.
The Cardinals won a great game last week against the Packers. It was a shootout, and I enjoyed watching all the great plays from two great quarterbacks. Today's game features two great quarterbacks, but this week the two teams are playing in what has to be the loudest and most excitable crowd in the league. I have no doubt about the outcome today.
And when I wake up tomorrow, I am still going to be a Saints fan.
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