There is but one Louisiana team in the National Football League, and hat is the New Orleans Saints. Playing in the NFC’s South Division, the Saints have demonstrated throughout their history that patience is not only a virtue – it is sometimes all you have. First founded in 1966, and joining the League in that year’s expansion, the Saints’ rise to prominence has been all but non-existent throughout most of their history. For a full decade, the team never managed to achieve a .500 season. Even after finally accomplishing that feat, it would be yet another ten years before they could compile their first winning season. It was more than another ten years after that before they managed a win in the postseason! To be a Saints fan has been to accept that life in the NFL is a roller-coaster that often has more extreme downward inclines than climbs. Patience has been about all the fans have had for most of the Saints’ history.
The shame of it all
There is no denying that the Saints have come a long way from the sad days of 1980 when the team managed to go down to defeat in each of their first fourteen games of the season. Things were so bad that the team’s fans took to covering their heads with paper bags during home games, in an attempt to show the disgust and shame that they felt over their team’s dismal performance. Oddly enough, the trend caught on with other teams as well, and is now a common sight in the stadiums of under-performing teams across the nation.
Katrina’s impact and the team’s comeback
You have to hand it to the Saints – they always seem to find something worse that can happen to them. After nearly four decades of poor play, the city of New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The damage was so extensive that the team could not even play in their own dome for the rest of the seasons, leaving them out on the road for the entire season. The end result was a season with only 3 wins, and the fervent desire on the part of fans and players alike that the next year would at last bring some positive developments. It did. In fact, the 2006 campaign resulted in the Saints not only winning the South division, but going on to face the Bears in the NFC Championship. And even though the Saintly ones lost that game, most fans felt like destiny was within their grasp.
The road to the Super Bowl
For the Saints, the road back to a Championship chance would not be the one everyone expected. Rather than continue to build on their wonderful 2006 results, the Saints instead slid backward toward mediocrity for two straight seasons. Then, when it seemed as though the bad old years of abysmal play were once again taking hold of the team, it did something nobody expected: win the first thirteen match-ups in the 2009 season. By the time the season was over, the Saints had won the NFC title game, dominated the indomitable Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV, and won their first Championship crown. For the fans of the Saints – and players as well – faith has been rewarded as patience finally paid off.