New Orleans Saints
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For so many areas in the American South, the 1960s was a glorious era of expansion that brought top-level professional football to longtime adoring areas of Dallas, Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints began play in 1967 with a dyed-in-the-wool fanbase full of optimism and a fight song built right in.
Unfortunately, the key missing ingredient – winning – soon became painfully apparent. It took a full 12 seasons before New Orleans would witness the majesty of a .500 season in 1979. The Saints wouldn’t notch their first record of better than .500 and the playoffs until ’87 and wouldn’t get a playoff win until 2000. In fact, with the wild-game win, the Saints became the 30th of the then 30 NFL teams to win a postseason game.
The original coining of the sobriquet “The Ain’ts” to describe New Orleans’s football team is lost to history, but the term likely stretches back to the 1970s.
The season of 2000 was soon thereafter resembling an anomaly: The next four seasons had the team finishing between 7-9 and 9-7 every year. And then real disaster.
Hurricane Katrina hit during the preseason to 2005 NFL season and the Saints were forced to evacuate the New Orleans area in August. Due to the use of the Superdome during the storm’s aftermath as an emergency shelter, the facility was rendered essentially unplayable for ’05. That season, the Saints played just seven “home” games (as opposed to the customary eight), with three held in San Antonio and four in Baton Rouge, the first occasions for both sites to host regular-season NFL games.
But in 2006, the Saints played out a redemption story to inspire their home city. Free agent QB Drew Brees came over from the San Diego Chargers, Sean Payton was hired as head coach, and RB Reggie Bush was taken at no. 2 overall in the draft. The team not only flipped the 3-13 of ‘05 into a 13-3 in ’06, the Saints in their 40th season finally won the Super Bowl, topping the favored Indianapolis Colts of Peyton Manning. Since then – “Bountygate” scandal aside – Saints fans have finally been able to enjoy seeing their players on the right side of a highlight clip once in a while.
However, one can’t help but wonder if the Saints’ most egregious loss in the divisional round of the playoffs following the 2017 season wasn’t the beginning of the end for the salad days of Peyton and Brees … and what will become of the Saints then?
For the official New Orleans Saints website, click here.