The American Spectator’s Quin Hillyer, a New Orleans native, has the quintessential take on the feeling of us long-suffering Saints fans on the eve of Saturday’s playoff game with Arizona. Hillyer goes through the disastrous history of the once-beleagured franchise and the reasons for the damaged psyches of the long-suffering Who Dats:
Maybe the worst indignity of all, though, was a cartoon that once ran in the independent New Orleans football weekly Gridweek. A donkey, driving a car, was stuck in a massive traffic jam of vehicles en route to the stadium rising in the distance. Every car but the donkey’s coupe had Saints pennants waving out the window. And the donkey, his face turned toward the reader and his thumb pointing at all the Saints fans, had one simple statement in the dialogue bubble: “And to think they call me a jackass!”
All of which helps serve as a reminder, once again, of why we longtime Saints fans this week are quaking in our boots at the thought of Saturday’s playoff game, wondering if we can possibly fail even to reach the conference championship (not to mention the Super Bowl, where we’ve never been) after winning our first 13 — yes, 13 in a row — games of the season. Our nightmares are filled with Joe Don Looney, Margarine Adkins, Grover Klemmer, Russell Erxleben, and Ricky Williams as Da Coach’s bride….
Hope springs eternal, though, he says. This has to be the Saints’ year. Gotta be.
One reason why the Saints have fallen on hard times of late is an injury-riddled defense in the last half of the season. With Sedric Ellis, Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, Tracy Porter, Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper all missing time in the second half, the defense has really struggled to produce its signature flurry of turnovers – and the run defense has been a real problem as well. Each of those formerly injured starters is back to health now, though Charles Grant is out.
Offensively, Jeremy Shockey is healthy again. That means all the key parts to the NFL’s most prolific scoring offense should be available.
The game is in the Superdome tomorrow. Saints fans are on edge, starved for a victory four weeks in coming since that season-opening 13-game win streak. The atmosphere will be electric.
This has to be the year. Honest.