Hello my friends, and welcome to Niners Hate Week 2014! A weeks worth of bile and vitriol for our opponent will conclude this Sunday with a main event between two of the NFL's biggest toolbags, in San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. Jim Harbaugh, we all get, but Sean Payton? Yeah, this may be a surprise to a minority of you, but the majority of the NFL's fan bases hate this guy's guts.
Sean Payton is an arrogant, pursed-lipped, smug, controlling, defiant egomaniac. Yeah, it's all true, but he's ours, and we love all of it. Jim Harbaugh, though? Well, he's theirs, and I can't stand the guy. He makes Pete Carroll look like Mr. Rogers. The antics, the whining, the khakis, the "look at me, why isn't everyone paying attention to me" act has even worn on his own franchise. The front office is fed up, and the team may be tuning out. This is a guy that brought one of the NFL's premier franchises back into prominence, and has led them to three consecutive NFC Championship Games in his first three seasons. Despite this, he is rumored to be on his way out at the end of the season.
What type of a cancerous, contentious attitude do you have to display to be in Harbaugh's position after all of his successes is his short career in San Francisco? I shudder to think what atrocities Sean Payton would have to commit to fall from Tom Benson's good graces. So, yes, our guy is a tool, but theirs is pretty unredeemable. This is just one of many storylines that makes Saints vs 49ers such a compelling and contentious rivalry over the last four seasons. Will a Saints victory on Sunday exact revenge for the Divsional playoff loss in 2012? Absolutely not, only a Saints playoff win over the Niners on the way to the title can heal that wound. But a win this Sunday will give either Payton or Harbaugh the upper hand in head to head meetings, with Harbaugh winning the 2012 playoff game and Payton winning the 2013 matchup. Remember, Payton wasn't on the sidelines for the 2012 regular season loss to Harbaugh's Niners.
Before last season's Saints/Niners game I wrote an article chronicling the Saints issues in defeating their bullies from the Bay. You should go "back in time" and take a look at it as many of it's tropes still ring true today. The Saints have five home games remaining on the regular season schedule, and I always had contested, and I still believe this will be the most difficult one of them all. No matter what happened to the Niners over their past two games, and likely despite them, they will be and incredibly difficult opponent for the Saints, as always. As much as most of us would like the Saints to dumptruck the 49ers, it would be highly unlikely to see that come to fruition.
While some may think that this is just another game on the schedule, let's not forget this moment:
Remember that one? I certainly never forgot it, or the incessant whining that ensued due to the unnecessary roughness penalty that was called on that play. Sorry Ahmad Brooks, but a Clothesline from Hell is as much a penalty in today's NFL as it is a finisher in WWE.
If you haven't forgotten, and I certainly haven't forgotten, then Drew Brees and the Saints most definitely haven't forgotten. If you believe anything, believe this, Payton, Brees, and the Saints will have a receipt* for the 49ers for that maneuver. Was it a cheap shot? No, but don't whine about it when you get called out for being outside of the rules. The aftermath of that play was when I realized that the Niners had taken on the personality of their coach: unlikeable, tantrum-prone, and likely to whine when times got tough.
While the Saints have clearly embodied Sean Payton for some time now: cocky, likely to overlook "weaker" opponents, and hungry for the spotlight when the lights are brightest, I'd gladly have a team embody these traits over Harbaugh's. The Saints are going to battle this Sunday, and the opportunity to deliver a decisive blow to an old, bitter rival is at their fingertips. Now is the time for the Saints to prepare for Frisco's best, most desperate shot, and be ready to counter with the best they have in return.
Before the 2014 season even began, I thought this would be just the first of two meetings between the Saints and 49ers in the Superdome, the second being the NFC Championship. Although that seems highly unlikely in November of 2014, stranger things have been known to happen in the NFL, especially with this clustermuck of a season. So if this is the very last time Sean Payton's Saints face Jim Harbaugh's 49ers I sincerely hope they make the most of it. Who knows, this January, the Saints might just get the ultimate chance to settle the score once and for all.
As much as opponents love to mock "Who Dat?" I've got one for the Niners this week. Who's gonna get it worse than you? Nobody!
*receipt (n.) — A legitimate hit or assault done in return for a previous (perceived) stiff punch, move, or hold.