Saints: Further than we’ve ever been

Published 3:31 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

One more game. One last dream to fulfill.

Every year, the Weems cousins start each preseason with the cry, “Saints are going to the Super Bowl!”

Super Bowl! Super Bowl?

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Can you hear Jim Mora now? “Playoffs? Playoffs?” The history of the Who Dat nation is long and tumultuous and if you have lived it these long 43 years then you know what a gift this NFC Championship is to the fans who have been there through all of the hard times when it wasn’t so popular to be a Saint’s fan. This gift was earned.

It’s about family. It’s about community. It’s about the human spirit. It is about living and growing up in the greater New Orleans’s area including the Mississippi Gulf Coast where life is a bit different down in the outer edges of the coastal shores and Louisiana swamps. The food tastes better, the people embrace life with gusto, the music is ever playing and the Nawlin’s Saints bring the people together as one large communal family.

The anthems are playing not only on Bourbon Street, but in Baton Rouge, Slidell, Bay St. Louis and Picayune “Oh when the Saints come marchin’ in… ” Zombie like citizens are stumbling around in a dreamlike state of black and gold euphoria. They marched in!

This is not about football. It goes deeper. It is about waiting for your time, yearning for something better, the little guy getting knocked down time and time again until finally he picks himself up and does something magical.

It is like the woman whose goal in life is to marry and live happily ever after. Years of dating pass until her youthful bloom begins to fade, her biological clock is winding down, she realizes after many disappointing relationships, a couple of missed opportunities that brought her close to marital bliss but sadly fizzled before completion that her wish must be cruelly unattainable. Then, a life shattering event occurs, she changes her attitude, fixes herself up, and demands the world take notice of her and although 43 years have passed she finally is swept off her feet, proposed to and now she is on her way to the wedding ceremony in Miami.

Longing is a human experience that reaches deep into our souls. The Saint’s fan has a deep understanding of suffering, of dashed hopes, embarrassing blunders, and accepting the crumbs of victory, merely content with a winning season.

From the conception on All Saint’s Day in 1966 until today, the fans have yearned for a Black and Gold Super Bowl and now faced with the actual reality that we have made it, a sense of wonder has settled upon the fans. Are we dreaming? Can this be? Did our eyes see what they saw?

Sean Payton could run for any office in Louisiana and Mississippi and win by a landslide. Drew Brees has been knighted as royalty of the Big Easy and no one wants this feeling to end.

It hasn’t been easy to get to this moment. And maybe that is why it is such a deep and intense feeling that socks you right in the gut, causing grown men to cry and celebration of the highest highs.

In our quest we had to face down one of our own boys, Brett Favre, whom many locals claim to be a fan of except when playing our Saints. A Kiln, Mississippi boy who grew up modeling himself after Archie Manning had dreams too, but since he already sports a Super Bowl ring, we will not mourn his defeat long.

Maybe Favre was a fan of the Saints before the NFC Championship game, but after the beating he took from the Saint’s defense, maybe not so much anymore.

As if the story were being put together by a crafty author, the ultimate irony is now we have one last goal to achieve, but to overcome it we must take down a Manning. Archie’s boy! He too wears a Super Bowl ring and wields a football with lightning accuracy super powers. He stands where other great quarterbacks like Kurt Warner and Favre stood but they were pounded into the ground.

Peyton has grown up amongst the Who Dat nation. Archie is legend among Saints fans. Can you believe that the road has led us through a Manning?

All of my life, it has meant so much to me to gather with my family every Sunday to cheer for the Saints, sometimes moaning and groaning in the agony of defeat or screaming with frustration. It has been a way of life. I guess suffering with those you love makes for a more bonding experience.

Too bad our next generation of Saints fans will never know the depth of loyalty that we have. They will have a reference point of that time when the Saints went to the Super Bowl.

There will be more hurricanes to rebuild from, but there will never be a time like this. We can stop looking into the crystal balls for the time that would come because now we have a reference point.

One moment changed Saints’ history.

It is emotional. It is so fulfilling. It’s a blend of everything that makes us who we are. We are the Who Dat nation and now, we can always remember the moment Garrett Hartley kicked us out of the cursed Saints and into the Super Bowl.

Joe, Scott… it’s been a few decades but you finally got it right. The Saints ARE going to Super Bowl number XLIV in Miami.

You are not dreaming anymore.

Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at her website: