Saturday, September 29, 2012

Life in the Who Dat Nation

I was not lucky enough to be born a Saints fan and I'm no team expert or historian. I just like the team and have since my family moved to Louisiana in the late 80s. You know, before their Super Bowl win.  I remember the paper bags, the 'Aints, and the campaign to have faith. It's hard not to like this team. Even in their years of loserdom, they were fun and seemed to revel in being underdogs. It's a badge of honor or something.

We can discuss Aaron Neville's maroon suit another day (because it is fantastic). If I'm not mistaken, this was actually filmed during one of their most winningest seasons ('83 maybe?). Anyway, there's something awesome about hearing people sing this song and knowing the words. Everything should be like a parade.

But it's also hard being a Saints fan. And we are the best fans in the world. Don't argue with me; you will lose. You might know they're awesome but they don't always seem to know it and certainly other teams' fans have a hate/hate relationship with us. I have to admit to feelings of anxiety and stress when I watch the Saints play - this is why I can't follow any other team in any other sport. My emotional self can't take it.

One of my favorite series of commercials for the team were used during the 2006 season (at least according to my friend Bridget who is a Saints expert so I will defer to her always). Anyway, the commercials featured Sean Payton coaching various team members on everyday activities. The one that sticks in my mind is the one where Payton coaches one of the players (I can't remember who) on how to brush his teeth. I remember the first time I saw it and laughing so hard my side hurt. Sadly, I have not been able to find it anywhere so you'll just have to use your imagination on this one.

I think of those commercials now as we get closer to this Sunday's game. It's been a rough start to this season; this is not the same team that we all know and love. They seem defeated even before they get on the field (except maybe Jimmy Graham-he is killing it). It's not an issue of skill or drive or desire to win; I think we know this is a talented team who wants to win. But clearly, Sean Payton matters and silly commercial aside, the team is suffering without him. Since it's pretty obvious that he's not going to be coaching this team this season there is only one thing I can think of to fix this.

Group therapy.

The team needs to get some help. I think there are some emotional issues on that field and those issues are keeping the Saints from delivering. The problem for the Saints it that they are not just a football team. They are a symbol of something greater than football-rebirth, hope, and faith. Fans are loyal and now have expectations of greatness and another Super Bowl win (especially given that it's in New Orleans this year). That's a lot to deal with on top of Bountygate, replacement refs, and the conspiracy theories about the NFL's attitude and dislike of the Saints. I know they're paid well for their work and just need to do their jobs (I'm fond of saying this at work) but I don't think they're going to be able to without working through their issues first. It's even possible that the team is suffering from some form of psychological zombie apocalypse.

In 2004, Metallica released a documentary about the making of their new album St. Anger and the band's attempt to work their issues out via group therapy. The film, Some Kind of Monster, is incredibly awkward to watch but awesome at the same time. The band is falling apart, the egos are amazing, and Dave Mustaine almost cries. I felt sad for the band (since I genuinely like them) but also wanted to reach through the screen and punch Lars and James in the face. By the end the album is finished and the band stays together (with a new bassist) and Lars buys more art and the Metallica universe is righted again.

That's what I propose for the Saints. Let's get a therapist and get these guys to talk it out. Get them to discuss the leadership vacuum that is apparently taking over the team; the stress of Bountygate and losing Payton for the season; the emotional weight of being a symbol of our city; getting rid of this defeatist attitude that they all seem to have the second they walk on the field. I'd also like them have a discussion about Jimmy Graham's awesomeness so that we can all be assured that no one is jealous of him and that he will continue to do his job as he has been doing. I'm also certain that Drew Brees needs a hug; something is missing from him this season. The spark is there but it's fainter than in seasons past - it's hard being an icon. I also really love Pierre Thomas - remember when he was called "Walter Paytonesque" back in 2009? I'd love for someone to one day describe a new player as "Pierre Thomasesque"-that would be cool.

Yes, this is my wrist. No, I didn't get a fleur de lis tattoo because of my Saints love (and I do love them). But that's what people think it's for and most of the time I let them. It's too hard to explain why I actually got this tattoo to strangers (without getting all personal and emotional) and saying I'm in a gang doesn't always go over so well.

So let's focus on tomorrow's game. Let's have faith in our boys and victory on the horizon. Let's Geaux Saints!

Do your job-Sean Payton will be proud.

Video from
Photos by me!

No comments:

Post a Comment