We’ve lived here for almost 30 years and, while not painting ourselves in team colors, we’re fans. We’ll admit, however, that it’s tough watching when they play the Saints.
That’s because we were born and raised in New Orleans and still have friends and family there. Too, we’re going to be buried (if being on a shelf in a columbarium can be called being “buried”) there. So, a little leeway, please.
We come by these feelings the hard way. The “hard way” being remembering a time — early in our marriage — when we thought that undergoing a root canal without anesthesia would’ve been better than watching a Saints game.
All of this started in 1967 — the year New Orleans convinced the NFL to give them a franchise. Lord knows why they did that, but the city campaigned for it long and hard. Still, with no other professional sports teams present, you wondered if, perhaps, the city had pictures of Pete Rozelle getting cozy with Big Foot or something.
Too, it wasn’t as if we were starved for football. We had LSU and people (especially Cajuns) in Louisiana would bet anything on their games.
“Hey, Boudreaux. What dem score at LSU?”
“Hesh up. It fourth an’ one an’ Ole Miss got da ball. I done bet my las’ boy, Landry, on da game. Lord knows how I gonna get my sugar cane in if dem Tigers doan win.”
We didn’t lack for things to do, either. Mention the word “party” and the place would shut down faster than a fly can leave a flat surface. Truth be told, the Saints’ losses over the years were likely a cosmic penance for Mardi Gras — an annual display of collective insanity held under the guise of being a party.
SAINTS FAN (In 1967): “Bless me God, for I have sinned. I did Mardi Gras again.”
GOD: “I know. I couldn’t believe what I saw on Bourbon Street. I’m thinking that I stopped way too soon at just Ten Commandments.”
SAINTS FAN: “Right. I promise I’ll tone it down next year. What’s my penance?
GOD: “I was thinking of another flood, but I’ve got a better idea. I’ll give you the Saints. And I think I’ll make them wander in the basement of the NFL for almost as long as Moses wandered the desert.”
And so, the city got the Saints and the NFL got a city that knew how to throw professional parties. Everyone was happy until the Saints played their first game.
They ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. After that, the only “down” they were good at was “meltdown.” Soon, they became a fixture in last place. And, if you were a fan, football became pretty bleak.
When they had an offense, they didn’t have a defense. When they had a defense, they didn’t have an offense. When they had a team, they didn’t have a coach. When they had a coach, they didn’t have a team. When they could throw, they couldn’t catch. When they could catch, no one could throw.
We were there the year the fans wore paper bags over their heads and called the team the “Aints.” We were there the year Tampa Bay came to town zero for their entire history and proceeded to beat us.
It took years, but the Saints eventually became a good team and finally won the Super Bowl.
That said, we live here and have followed the ups and downs of the Seahawks since 1985. We’re fans of the Hawks and the Mariners. We died when the Hawks made it to the Super Bowl, didn’t have enough men on the field to cover the refs, and lost to the Steelers.
But that was then.
This year they’ve been simply outstanding and, last week, we both stood up, remembered to start breathing again, and cheered when Richard Sherman ended the hopes of the 49ers. It was a game to remember.
The same will be true when they beat the Broncos this coming Sunday. So, as we’d say in New Orleans:
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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