Sean Payton's genius and wisdom extend much further than the football field. I know this for a fact.
As I was standing in the middle of the Saints locker room after the game Sunday night, just soaking it all in and still in utter disbelief at my surroundings, I noticed Payton quickly walk over to a player, give him a big hug and say, "Nobody can ever take this away from you."
He could have just as easily been talking to me and he couldn't have been more right.
I will spare you all the long, emotional colloquy I really feel and that comes with a win like this. I've written enough of that crap this past year to last another championship season; maybe two. But when I started this silly little blog, I never once thought it would put me in the middle of ground zero for Saints fans - in the locker room and just inches away from Drew Brees and his death grip on the Lombardi Trophy (I swear he didn't want to let it go. Can you blame him?). I have you guys to thank for that because I would have quit this gig a long time ago without you. Like the random party-goers some of you may have chest-bumped or hugged on Bourbon Street Sunday night, we're all just faces in the crowd that have never met but have one important thing in common: We are Saints fans to the core.
I don't know what the future holds for the Saints franchise. None of us do. Obviously, we all hope this is just the beginning of much continued success. But if it takes another forty-three years for the Saints to ever get this far again, at least I will be able to tell my children and grandchildren that I was there for the greatest moment in New Orleans sports history. Really there. My incredible access during the Super Bowl was more than I could have ever imagined. I felt special - like Wayne and Garth at an Alice Cooper concert - a little naughty - going places I had no business being - and slightly revolutionary - I've got to have been the first "blogger" allowed to get that close to the Saints. I would like to thank SB Nation for that.
Most importantly, I want to thank the Saints for all of the memories they've given me over the years, this season in particular. Each memory seemed sweeter than the next this season but none of them are as special as the one they gave me on Sunday night. I will never forget Payton's words or anything else I saw, heard, smelled, touched or tasted in Miami.
And no one will ever be able to take them away from me.
As is post-game tradition here on CSC, these are your final bullet points of this magical 2009 season:
- I mentioned that actor Wendell Pierce was on my flight to Miami. If the name isn't familiar, I guarantee his face is. He's probably best known for his work on HBO's "The Wire" and will star in the soon to be released "Treme" filmed here in New Orleans, obviously. He was very nice, very normal and chatting it up with Saints fans on the plane. His prediction was that Reggie Bush and Devery Henderson would have big games. Pretty close.
- There were a bunch of bible thumpers outside of the stadium preaching "the good word" with their big poster signs, pamphlet hand-outs and megaphones. You've seen guys like these on Bourbon street.
- It cost $75 to park at the stadium. What a fleece job. We wound up parking on the front lawn of some dude's house and giving him $30, Jazzfest style.
- Doesn't anyone find it ironic that the secondary, particularly Tracy Porter, has been the saving grace of this team and the playoffs when it was previously the bane of most Saints fans existence for the last two or three years? We've all got to acknowledge the incredible turnaround of the Saints pass defense in the last year.
- While we're on the subject of Tracy Porter, he's got to be considered the real MVP of the game. Hell, of the playoffs. We're probably not celebrating today if not for his two clutch interceptions in as many playoff games.
- This has been discussed as nauseum but I'll mention it one more time: This was probably as close as it gets to being a home game for any team in a Super Bowl. Saints fans clearly outnumbered Colts fans by at least two to one, if not more. For the most part Colts fans sat behind the Colts bench and Saints fans behind the Saints bench. The rest of the stadium was a sprinkling of each, with Saints fans being more predominant of course. It should also be mentioned that Colts fans and the culture of being one is bland, something stujo4 mentioned in his FanPost. No unique songs, no crazy costumes and no original fan chants. After Saints scores, they played the second line song and "Stand Up and Get Crunk" over the loudspeaker. I asked BigBlueShoe if the Colts had anything like that and he quickly told me no. So be proud, Who Dat Nation. You are unique; you are wonderful.
- Thomas Morstead must take his job very seriously. He was kicking as many balls as possible before the game, at one point even punting over the stage set up for the pre-game show as if nobody was there. Whatever he's doing, it's working.
- The second they played "Stand up and Get Crunk" over the stadium speakers, all of the special teams players on the field awaiting the ensuing Colts kickoff automatically got amped up. The power of music is an amazing thing. I almost felt it was an unfair advantage.
- Before the game and before halftime they played a video on the big screen asking the crowd to hold up their cell phones and do silly, choreographed arm movements during the chorus of The Who's performance of "Who Are You."
- I'm not sure whether it really did play out quickly or if it just felt that way but the game just seemed to fly by. The first quarter felt like it took all of five minutes to play and the rest didn't seem to take much longer.
- Garrett Hartley = money. Pop all the pills you want, my friend. He got a lot of media attention after the game and looked incredibly happy.
- One player I thought played well but never really got talked about was Malcolm Jenkins. For a rookie in a Super Bowl, I thought he played pretty well. He made a great play in second half sniffing out a Peyton Manning screen pass and immediately tackling the receiver for no gain, if not a loss.
- It was both difficult and weird to act more like a "journalist" and less like a fan but I think I did a pretty good job. The only time I got swept up in the moment was when Tracy Porter intercepted the ball. Before I knew it I found my self standing with my arms up in the air. After quickly realizing what I was actually doing, I sat back down. Like many of you, I couldn't help but get emotional. If cheering isn't allowed in the press box, I'm sure crying certainly isn't. I had to fight back the tears.
- Celebrities shown on the big screen during game: Scottie Pippen, Jamie Foxx, Eli Manning.
- Balls, cojones, moxie. Call it whatever you want but Sean Payton has got it. He's been the X-factor for the Saints this entire season and I've always felt comfortable, confident and content knowing he's been driving this train, especially during the playoffs. Tracy Porter and Drew Brees may have been the MVP's for the offense and defense but it all starts with Payton. If they could give the MVP award to a non-player, Payton would have won in a landslide. The Saints have always had the edge with him on the sidelines. The onside kick to start the second half was the turning point of this football game. Period.
- The odds makers in Las Vegas lost a lot of money on this game. Good! I understand it's hard to see clearly when your head is so far up Peyton Manning's ass, but next time they ought to check with people who actually know a little about football, like Saints fans, before setting the line. The New Orleans Saints and the teams determination were clearly underestimated. That's just the tip of the "You deserve everything you get for doubting the Saints" iceberg that I plan on spewing at all of the main stream media morons and near-sighted naysayers over the next few months.
- This years Super Bowl was the most watched television program ever. Ever! So I will mention this again: Couldn't those greedy bastards in the NFL have just opened the damned Superdome for Saints fans to watch the game? Would it have really made that much of a difference? Your ratings are fine and you'll still get your corporate sponsorships, I promise. Corporate jerks!
- Have you noticed the "Congratulations" skin that SB Nation put on the side of our website? Pretty damn cool if you ask me. If not, you might want to try switching to the narrow view. I had no idea they were doing this but I'm hoping they never take it down.
- Deuce McAllister and Mike McKenzie were both in the locker room area after the game.
- The players were passing around and holding up a skimpy pair of black underwear with the words "Who Dat" in shiny gold lettering on the butt.
- I asked both Malcolm Jenkins and Usama Young after the game if they would finally tell me what Drew and the team chant before the game. No dice. Neither of them were going to be "that guy" as they referred me to Drew himself.
- Jeremy Shockey appeared to be disappointed after the game. He was nowhere near as jovial as I had expected, especially following such a monumental game.
- Thomas Morstead just sat quietly in his locker with his gold pants still on and his arms folded, looking around at all the action. I think he was just soaking it in.
- Charles Grant looked like a pimp in his white 3-piece suit.
- The only player I saw Peter King talking to after the game was Mark Brunell of all people.
- A lot of the players, particularly Jeff Charleston, were yelling, "Shirt off!" I think that's one of their inside jokes.
- Mike Bell was walking around in a robe and shooting video of all the action in the locker room. While Pierre Thomas was being interviewed (very soft spoken), Bell kept interrupting with jokes.
- On my way to the Miami airport yesterday, my cab driver told me that he's seen a lot of Super Bowls played in his town but no fans were as nice as Saints fans.
- Vendors were selling official Super Bowl and Championship gear right out of the boxes in the Miami airport as you walked in. Capitalism at it's finest.
- I was told that Tom Benson's tailor was having a special pinstripe suit made for Mr. Benson just for the Super Bowl as a gift. Instead of plain stripes, though, the lines of the suit would be wording in very fine print that read, "Super Bowl XLIV Champions" or something to that effect. So as not to jinx the team, however, he wore a regular suit and his wife Gayle was to be responsible for switching Mr. Benson's jacket just before heading down to the field if the Saints should win. If you look at the photo included in this post, you might be able to see Benson wearing this very expensive suit. You can't make out the wording but it's obvious that it isn't a plain pinstripe. Where else could you find out info like this other than Canal Street Chronicles?
- Text message from my wife on Monday: "It's a beautiful day here in New Orleans! It's like the weather knows we won the Super Bowl!"