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The Saints and Destiny

The Saints playoff win -- only the SECOND in franchise history -- was sweet to these fans, but more bittersweet for me (see my post from last week).

It's strange watching a game with two teams you like - the emotions all get tempered. RB Reggie Bush fumbles the ball - you feel a pang in the gut, but you don't throw the remote at the TV. Eagle head coach Andy Reid elects to punt on 4th-and-15 - you shake your head, but you don't bang your head against the wall. It's probably the closest I will ever get to feeling what it's like to be a non-fan - the person that gets dragged into sports who simply could care less. (Kind of like me at a NASCAR race.)

Like the week leading up to the Saints/Eagles game, it's bittersweet. It's sad to see my wife - who now is starting to bleed Eagles colors - low because the Eagles lost. She doesn't hate the Saints, but she's no fan either. When Westbrook scored that TD in the third quarter, she was standing up and cheering. I pretty much stayed seated the entire game. (Ask my wife how often that happens.)

Now that the Saints/Eagles game is over, though, I can allow myself to think the unthinkable. The Saints... in the Super Bowl? Why does this team - assembled this year from spare parts - seem to ooze a feeling of destiny? Forget Katrina and the Superdome rising from the ashes after being a site of horrors in 2005. There's a lot of destiny to this Saints team already, and although it's hard to put my finger on it, it seems like this team could really do it. Honestly. I didn't really believe it until they beat the Eagles this weekend, but I really am starting to believe now.

You don't believe it's destiny? Take a look at the amazing chain of events that have allowed this Saints team to go from a 3-13 homeless, patronized team to the brink of the Super Bowl. Please, read these critical events and tell me I'm wrong. If one - just one - of these things didn't happen we'd be talking about the Iggles in the NFC Championship to get another shot at the Pats.

* 2002, Saints owner Tom Benson dumps one of the worst GMs ever in the history of sports in Jim Mueller and puts in place GM Mickey Loomis. Unquestionably this is the first domino to fall. Mueller is hired by the Dolphins - remember this.

* Mueller gives us Gift #1: signing away our most disastrous draft pick ever in Ricky Williams that March. Getting Williams to Miami allowed the Saints to put that in the past.

* In 2004, Sean Payton gets an offer from the Oakland Raiders to be their head coach. Destiny intervenes and tells Sean: "You don't want Al Davis. Hold out for the San Antonio... I mean New Orleans Saints next year."

* Haslett is gone; the Saints are considering "Mo" Carthon of the Browns, or Sean Payton off of Bill Parcells' staff for their new head coach. If you've ever seen Saints history (the appropriately-named "Bum" Phillips leaps to mind), the Saints would go after the guy on the team that has never won anything. Bucking this crucial trend could have been the most important choice ever made by this franchise.

* Mueller gives us Gift #2. He's given a choice of pursuing QB Dante Culpepper or QB Drew Brees for the Dolphins. Brees would have cost the Dolphins a hefty contract; Culpepper cost the Dolphins a second-round draft pick AND a hefty contract. Brees falls into the Saints' lap.

"I just felt that energy in New Orleans," Brees said at the signing. "From the very beginning there was a genuine feeling that they wanted me there. They believe I can come back from this shoulder injury and lead them to a championship. They were as confident as I am, and that meant a lot."

(Seriously, could there have ever been an executive in the history of the NFL that has helped a team more by simply leaving the franchise?)

* The Brees signing means the maddening Aaron Brooks is no longer a Saint. I can't emphasize that enough. There was no "wait, keep Brooks as an insurance policy!" Brooks was out the door. The right move.

* The NFL Draft. The Saints had all but signed DE Mario Williams - and then they get the jaw-dropping news that the Texans are going to sign Williams over RB Reggie Bush. In years past, the Saints would have traded down and picked up someone like LB Ernie Sims. This year, Payton bucks the system. Reggie is ours, along with two more starters: OL Jahri Evans and WR Marques Colston (who I actually saw play at Hofstra). Imagine if we got Williams instead of Bush... we'd be saying "the NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers".

Not convinced yet? Consider this as well:

* The Vikings always have the Saints' number - one of the Lesser Known Rules of the Universe - but their implosion made sure that they weren't in the playoffs this year. Destiny.

* The Saints already avenged 1993 (QB Bobby Hebert's implosion) by beating the Eagles - now they have a chance to avenge 1990 (the "Dome Patrol" wills the John Fourcade-led offense into the playoffs) by beating the Bears. (Yes, QB John Fourcade.) Bears and Eagles. Destiny.

* If they beat the Bears, they will either face the Colts - whose head coach Tony Dungy is eminently outcoachable - or the Patriots - who aren't as talented or as fresh as the young Saints. Consider for a moment that they could have faced the fearsome "D" of the Ravens or the bulldozer that was the San Dioego offense, and you have to think... Destiny.

* The Saints face the Bears, who won on Sunday one of the most dull playoff games in recent memory. Only the Bears could throw 3 INTs and still be in a position to win at the end. If they do that, the Saints will win on Sunday.



Ngineer said…
Payton is lucky as hell. What a god-awful call on a pitchout to Bush after they were literally jamming it down the Eagles throats. What is with coaches constantly going away from what's been working. Too cute and out-thinking themselves. If the other team can't stop what you're doing, why change? Eagles just made more god-awful mistakes.
Anonymous said…
The Saints will win the Super Bowl because the NFL wants them to win - America's feel good story of 2007. Look for any debatable call to go N.O.'s way Just like Pittsburgh's gift last year.
Anonymous said…
Good call Kreskin

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