You know how fans of bad teams come to games with paper bags over their heads, because they're ashamed to admit they root for a terrible franchise? New Orleans invented that, because they root for the most terrible franchise ever.
For most of their existence the Saints were the textbook definition of lousy football. In the team's very first game in 1967, they returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown—and never looked forward from there. They lost that game and many, many after. In their first 20 years of existence they finished exactly at .500 twice. Never better than that. No division titles. No playoff games. Zip.
It was during the midst of a 1-15 season in 1980 that local sportscaster "Buddy D." Diliberto himself dropped the S and began referring to the team as "The Aints." He also encouraged the paper bags as a show of solidarity among fans at the Superdome. The legend (of awfulness) was born.
Even the players (current and former) have had trouble coping with the stink of failure and jambalaya. Now in a stunningly unprecedented reversal rarely seen in sports, a terrible team is suddenly good. They are in the Super Bowl. Strange, but true!
So what about those fans? "Long Suffering" is a word you hear a lot. "Laughing stock" is another. "Resurrected." "Hell freezing over. "Not your father's Aints because your father probably threw himself in Lake Pontchartrain after the Ricky Williams draft." You get the idea.
Every big game needs a feel good story, and the happy-go-lucky people of New Orleans having something to be happy about certainly qualifies. But how does a tortured fan base come to grips with the fact that their team might actually, you know ... win?
Oh ... right. Lord helps us all.
Saints' franchise has been resurrected from laughingstock [NW Times]
'Who Dat' Nation proves just happy to be there [Houston Chronicle]
Saints have come a long way from the days they were the 'Ain'ts' [St. Louis Globe-Democrat]
Super Bowl Is Unlikely Stopover on Player's Journey to Sobriety [NY Times]