I pulled out some of my old Mardi Gras beads — the gold ones, of course — to wear during the game.
As some of you may know, I went to Tulane University in New Orleans, and I fell in love with the city. I also became a Saints fan as I embraced everything New Orleans-related. Of course, I’ve also been a long-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, so I was used to supporting a non-winning team. It’s now been 20 years since I first became a Saints fan. In all that time, I never really expected us to do that well; certainly not to make it to the Super Bowl! I mean, I’ve had my hopes raised in the past; I was there in the early ’90s when Coach Jim Mora had some success with the team, success that lead to the whole Cha-Ching chants and bumper stickers calling for Mora for Governor (which might not have been a bad idea considering David Duke and Edwin Edwards were the actual candidates).
So this season, as the Saints began their 13-game winning streak, I was thrilled, but still very cautious. It was the Saints, after all. Something would invariably go wrong. When they lost the last three games of the season, I thought it was the Saints as usual. Don’t forget, they used to be called the Ain’ts. I knew we were going to playoffs, but still thought that would be the end of it. Oh, I was thrilled we’d done as well as we had, but I didn’t want to get too excited. History was certainly not in the team’s favor. But they kept winning. They even beat the mighty Brett Favre and the Vikings to finally, FINALLY go to the Super Bowl for the very first time in the team’s 43-year history.
I still couldn’t bring myself to be too cocky about the Saints actually managing to win the Super Bowl. I figured I’d be happy just that we’d finally made it that far. The first half of the Super Bowl made me think that line of thinking was appropriate. But then the second half of the Super Bowl started and things turned around. Boy did they turn around! Touchdowns, interceptions, more field goals! I still couldn’t believe it and it wasn’t until the Colts’ last play, with only 40 seconds left that I finally allowed myself to believe that the Saints really were going to win the Super Bowl! They did it! They won! The New Orleans Saints are NFL Champions!
Did I mention that the game didn’t start here until 12:30 a.m. and that the end of the game wasn’t until almost 4 a.m.? Oh yeah. We watched. I wasn’t the only displaced Southerner/New Orleans Saints fan who stayed up and watched. This morning when I got up a few measly hours later, I was afraid it was just a dream. But no; it was all real! So if you’ll excuse me, I have some gloating to do.
Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?