Hollywood moguls would laugh. Manhattan publishers would scoff. This story would never actually happen, try coming back when you have something a little more based in reality they'd say. Well, for Saints fans this is reality.
The last moment of pure joy and blissfully ignorant optimism as a Saints fan came with 1:37 left on the clock at San Francisco in the Divisional playoff. Watching Jimmy Graham race 66 yards down the field like a wrecking ball on fire. Knowing the Saints had just pulled off an unlikely comeback on a day that they did not have their best, or anything close to it. The "road" questions would end and the Saints best defensive opponent would be behind them.
Looking at it objectively, the Saints had all but sealed up the Super Bowl XLVI title with that score. The Green Bay Packers were absolutely, positively going to lose at home against the Giants the next day. Need proof? Stat time: the last defending Super Bowl champion to win a single playoff game the following season was the 2005 Patriots. Stats don't lie, sorry 2012 Giants, it doesn't look good for you.
The Saints weren't going to lose a home game to anyone last season. The Giants would be dispatched in the Dome (again) and the Saints offense would likely overwhelm the Patriots under the roof at Lucas Oil Stadium. During that moment when Graham crossed the goal line at Candlestick all of these possibilities were a reality. That day was January 14th, over half a year ago.
Since then things have changed in dramatic and unimaginable ways for the Saints and their fans.
We aren't going to get into the names and circumstances here. Frankly, we all know what has happened since the moment Darren Sproles completed the 2 point conversion on that Graham touchdown. The Saints family has been mired in a state of negativity that is unparalleled in NFL history. I, just like many others, can't wait for the season to start and just get back to football. Win or lose we'll have X's and O's to discuss again rather than prolonged contract negotiations and suspensions.
Drew Brees is signed and enough time has passed to cope with the suspensions and how to move forward from them. We move on from the allegations and the countdown to the 2012 NFL season begins. The question I have for my fellow Saints fans is: What got you through this tumultuous offseason? What could you hang your hat on? What was your silver lining in this enormous dark cloud since the Graham TD?
For me personally, I found solace in the Super Bowl XLIV title. Without that, I would have been crestfallen about the state of the organization and its future. To have been as good as the Saints have been in the Brees/Payton era and not to have won a title would have been devastating. Every successful franchise has their championship "window" and some succeed in it (Belichick/Brady Patriots) while others flounder in it (Rivers/Tomlinson Chargers). The Saints got theirs as the window had just barely begun to open wide.
If the Saints were still without a title by this offseason it would've seemed like it would never happen. Like that day against San Francisco was their best chance squandered. As if fate put greatness on our fingertips just to have it fall out of our hands (like a Saints defender going for an INT). Thankfully, as strange as this story has been it is far from over, and the Saints have an opportunity to write some amazing new chapters.
We as Saints fans don't have to wonder what could've been regarding just winning a single title. We can afford to hope for multiple titles in this window. What Marino, Kelly, McNabb and many others wouldn't give for the opportunity to say that. The '09 title was like a kevlar vest against the bullets of this offseason. They still hurt like hell but they weren't fatal. I knew that no matter what happened this offseason, we still saw the Saints win the title in our lifetime. They didn't squander their best opportunity to get to the top, just the opportunity to top themselves possibly. Thankfully, the window is open wide and the Saints stand ready to cross through again.
What got you through this offseason? The '09 title? Looking forward to the upcoming season? The positive news like the Spagnuolo and linebacker signings? Please leave your comments and experiences below! We want to know how you kept your sanity in the turbulence of the 2012 offseason.