Well, we are officially less than a month before the start of the NFL season, so it's probably time to start previewing the monster. We have something we hope you'll enjoy.
The key to the NFL's success — other than fantasy football and gambling, of course — is the rabid nature of its fans. No matter what the facts might be, a true fan of an NFL team can be easily convinced, at any point, that their team can win the Super Bowl this year. Hell, we've thought the Buzzsaw were winning it all every year since 1982.
Therefore, we asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, even a TV guy or two, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, why My Team Is Better Than Your Team. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever. This series starts today. We will be running two a day — two-a-days, you see — until the beginning of the NFL season; we'll have one more late this afternoon. So here we go.
First up, the New Orleans Saints. Your author is Alex Balk.
Alex Balk is an editor of Gawker. His words are after the jump.
New Orleans Saints
There's a story from the earlier part of the last decade that concerns the burglary of a New Orleans sporting goods store. The thieves stripped the place clean, even making off with the metal wire containers that held the basketballs. But in a stunning display of disdain (or incisive commentary, depending on your opinion), they left every Bobby Hebert jersey standing on its hanger.
The tale may be apocryphal, but it encapsulates much of the recent history of the Saints franchise. Every one of your teams' third-string quarterbacks has, at one point or another, been not only our starter, but our media-appointed savior. The Saints have been the Charlie Brown to the rest of the league's Lucy, except Charlie Brown had better special teams. We have one playoff victory in our entire existence; even as losers were mediocre.
But step back for a second. As I write this, The New York Times is fronting a piece about how the residential post-Katrina exodus to Houston has resulted in a swelling of the drug trade back home. Vast stretches of the city remain uninhabitable, and we're only at the beginning of a new hurricane season. Reading coverage concerning the reconstruction is almost unbearable. I am, as the classic bumper sticker read, a Saints fan and a sad man.
There are those who argue that sports can provide an important distraction during difficult times. I'll suggest that The City That Care Forgot has never had a problem distracting itself; maybe it's time we keep the focus on things that matter. I'd much rather see the city getting attention for newly restored levees than anything that might happen on the field. I'm as thrilled as any other fan that we've signed Reggie Bush. I'll suck up my antipathy to scabs and hope that new head coach Sean Payton can motivate the team in ways that Jim Haslett was no longer able. Still, I'm rooting for the Saints to go a respectable 8-8 this season.
Because you know that one playoff win is all the excuse Tom Benson needs to move the team.
A quick note of appreciation for former tackle Willie Roaf, who, during his tenure with the team, provided a model for how a professional athlete could involve himself in the community for which he played. Thanks, Willie. May your retirement be Joe Horn-free.