Let’s take a look at a couple quotes from the past week or so.
“This season is going to take on an us-versus-the-world mentality. The perception at this point is not positive with us. We’ve worked very hard, I know as players, to gain respect, not only as a good team but as a good group of guys. That perception will go completely out the window now, and I think that’ll be kind of a rallying cry for us.” – Zach Strief
“You think all this crap is gonna be a problem for us? Look at what I’ve done. Free agents aren’t scared to come to New Orleans. Our veterans are using this as motivation. Where is your god now?” – Mickey Loomis
Ok, I made the last one up. But that’s what I choose to believe he’d say to the rest of the league if he could. I don’t know the guy personally (obviously, or I’d be doing something more influential than writing this goofy blog with a readership in the tens), and for all I know he is a devoutly religious man who wouldn’t utter such blasphemy. But that doesn’t matter – I choose to believe that behind those sunglasses exists a badass, foul-mouthed renegade without a care in the world besides winning a Super Bowl.
We always choose to believe what we want about Saints personnel, coaches, staff, and that cute intern that doesn’t seem to really be doing anything but standing around and looking hot and distracting us from that great throw that everyone will talk about to pass the time until the season actually starts and we now have to pretend we actually saw. “Yeah, honey, he made a good touchdown there.” Perception is reality when it comes to our beloved franchise in New Orleans, and we have always been a little quick to deify our guys, right?
The deification seems even more natural when we’re talking about these Saints, the ones that brought us a Super Bowl and recognition and a little media coverage for like a week, and now, hate. Blessed, wonderful hate, the kind fans hold only for champions who give them excuses not to like (although, “they hit too hard” is a new low point in that theme). We exalt these guys in the manner of gods, not because we’re blasphemous and sacrilegious but because here, football really is a religion, we’ve seen the promised land, our gods delivered – and now we’re locked in an immortal battle for our souls against the demons in New York and, presumably, Atlanta (shut up, Blank, Matt Ryan doesn’t rate $10,000 in this universe or any other).
Our religion is a beautiful one, it’s a religion that really delivers, gives us something tangible. Faith isn’t always necessary, because we got to heaven once and every year we’re a bad defensive play-call or two from glimpsing it again. We believe these guys can do no wrong, and they can’t, not as long as we’re going 9-0 in the Dome.
Let’s look back at the exalted Loomis. In spite of all obstacles, he’s still bringing in free agents. Our players don’t sound discouraged by the bad press from the national media and the local hacks. The free agents don’t see a tarnished franchise, right, Curtis? Loomis is working his magic, solving every problem the offseason brings with his own peculiar brand of righteous wrath. He sees everything before we do – the guy is blessed with football omniscience. Nicks had to get paid. Good for you, Carl. You’re dead to me. Meet Ben Grubbs. Colston doesn’t even test the market. Chris Chamberlain. Holy crap, while we were worrying over a franchise tag and a bounty scandal, this team just got better. How does he do it? We shouldn’t have worried. Remember, the Loomis works in mysterious ways.
Speaking of franchise tags and awkward segues, Drew Brees is nothing short of a football god around here either. Hell, we call the guy Breesus. He’s breaking records in a city once known for standing up and chanting for Jake Delhomme to take the reins. Deification is automatic. In Breesus we trust, man. Payton’s gone? “Hire Brees as the coach and pay him extra, he can do anything,” say the well-meaning Brees-fearing fans who have no conception of how the salary cap works.
Meanwhile, the Great Payton does every damn thing he can think of to ruffle the commissioner’s feathers, adhering to a passive-aggressive philosophy all too appropriate in a city that embraces a bizarre mixture of Christianity and Voodoo, where we trust in our faith but figure it can’t hurt to stick a pin in an effigy’s eye every once in a while. Winning is everything, but sticking it to the commish is some delicious lagniappe. “Suspend me? Dude, I’m BFF with a hall of fame coach who also hates the media and embraces the screw-em-all mentality. How ‘bout them apples? :poke:”
But we have a problem, don’t we? Our gods are in conflict. Loomis is saving the day, Brees is infallible, and yet they can’t agree to fight as one for the eternal bliss of Championship because they’re split over a few million in Earthly treasures. It’s probably inevitable in a polytheistic religion such as ours that a few of our gods would have a little spat from time to time. The congregation is even taking sides. “Brees is greedy,” says Guy Who Always Sides With Management. “Loomis should have seen this coming, pay the man!” says Guy Who Always Sides With Players.
Stop it, folks. Have a little faith. They’ll work things out. In the meantime, we can just be cool and focus on Lord Payton taking it to the demons with every weapon he has. We don’t have to take sides, because the pantheon will, one day soon, come together in a glorious 19-week reunion and tear through the unbelievers with a wrath like the world has never seen. I believe that, don’t you?
While we wait, we may be comforted by imagining the reactions of the infidels when they are allowed to witness the glory of the Loomis and the Breesus fighting as one. What do you do then, Unbelievers? How do you cope when through all that schadenfraude and propaganda and the lost draft picks and the suspensions, this team comes forth better than before? What do you do when one hall of fame coach is replaced by another? How does it make you feel when your linebacker ditches your miserable franchise for the one that is supposed to be dead in the water?
Where do you turn when everything John Clayton and Tony Kornheiser told you turns out to be false, and you realize that ticket in your hand is your invitation to be present when your franchise becomes the latest benchmark in a vindictive streak of destruction from the team you pronounced dead six months ago?
Where is your god then?