English writer Charles Caleb Colton said that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," so before I go any further, I would like to give some warm kudos to Hookslide from "Bless You Boys" the Detroit Tigers SB Nation's blog. He wrote this piece about the five stupidest things he heard while at a recent Tigers game, which reminded me of two things: 1) How crazy my fellow Saints fans are. 2) The even crazier things they say.
First off, the Saints have the absolute best fanbase in the National Football League (Huh yes, Seattle, we do; we didn't just show up everywhere with "12" t-shirts once our team started winning). Any other fanbase wants to argue with us about this? Hahaha, sit down Falcons fans, you do not count!
Alright, so New Orleans has the best football fans in the known universe. But that's a double-edge sword; because the best fans are also often...well, the craziest. Calling a Saints fan a die-hard is usually redundant. They revel in every regular season touchdown as if it were a score in the Superbowl. They also die with every interception thrown by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, as if someone had ripped their heart right out of their chest.
Where this beautiful insanity reaches an absolute crescendo is actually between games. Whether on Twitter, on a Saints blog or by the water cooler, thousands of Saints coaches, general managers and quarterbacks relive the games and the decisions they would have made, were they actually playing on the field or in charge of the team.
So what to do when a fellow Saints fan says one of the following "cray cray" things to you? First you give him/her a look (the mandatory look, of the utmost importance). Then you use the tools I give you below to try and bring him/her back to the realm of the sane. If that doesn't work, you're on your own. Good luck!
1 - "It might be time to replace Drew Brees."
My take: This is easily the most egregious of the crazy things you will hear disgruntled Saints fans say after a loss, especially one that involved quarterback Drew Brees not performing at his usual stellar level. Sure, at age 35, Brees isn't exactly in his prime anymore, like when he signed with New Orleans, back in 2006. But in 2013 he just had one of his best seasons since he joined the Saints, throwing for 5,162 yards, with 39 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Without him at this point, New Orleans would be lucky to win 5 games in a season. Sometimes, Saints fans take Brees for granted; in a few years, when he retires, the awakening is going to be quite rude.
What you should do: Take away whatever beverage they're holding and lock them in a room for an hour of two alone, so they can contemplate the errors of their way.
2 - "Jimmy Graham only plays well against bad teams."
My take: I heard this foolish statement more than any other during the 2013 season and it drove me absolutely nuts! Yes, the Saints prodigiously talented tight end tends to disappear when physical teams double or even triple-team him. He also gets repeatedly mugged by defenders (I'm looking at you, Seahawks) while the referees watch and say nothing, because he is 10'7" and 1700 lbs. and therefore simply never gets fouled (yes, I'm joking; sort of). Well. Graham's detractors conveniently ignore his outstanding numbers against some of the best defenses in the NFL last year: Carolina (2 games: 11 receptions, 131 yards, 3 touchdowns); Arizona (9 rec, 134 yards, 2 TDs); New York Jets (9 recs, 116 yards, 2 TDs); Tampa Bay (2 games: 15 recs, 250 yards, 2 TDs); Seahawks (2 games: 6 recs, 86 yards, 1TD). Not too shabby.
What you should do: Just hammer them with the statistical knowledge I just provided you. If they don't listen to reason, just shrug and walk away. Some lost souls are just lost.
3 - "How are we going to pay our draft picks now?"
My take: Mickey Loomis, the Saints General Manager, has a lot of assistants in the Who Dat Nation; some of them may actually be Business majors, some may be majoring in Sports Analysis. Others are just innately good and know what's best for the team. For instance, they know that if you keep making shrewd moves in free agency, eventually you're not going to have any money left to pay your draft picks and you'll be forced to ask NFL Commish Roger Goodell for a credit to sign your rookies and undrafted free agents. They really don't want the Saints to have to do that.
Seriously though, has there ever been a precedent of a team not being able to pay its draft picks? Or are some Saints fans just drinking a particularly strong brand of Louisiana moonshine?
What you should do: Simply slip an appropriate (or not) dose of Valium in their drink while telling them that everything will be fine. If they don't calm down, threaten them with a re-watching of the 2011 San Francisco divisional playoff game.
4 - "Saints should draft [Insert LSU player's name here]"
My take: Homerism has led a lot of otherwise reasonable men and women to do and say regrettable things. A strong contingent of Saints fans are also fans of Louisiana State University, the beacon school of the state of Louisiana (No Dave, it is not Tulane). Every year, as the draft approaches, Saints fans clamor for their team to draft a Bayou Bengal, whether said player would actually fill a need on the team or not. But hey, he's a local product; he's from here, so let's take him. Fortunately, the Saints front office doesn't operate that way.
What you should do: Remind them that Drew Brees went to Purdue, Kenny Vaccaro to Texas, Cam Jordan to Cal, Pierre Thomas to Illinois and Mark Ingram to Ala...actually, maybe you shouldn't say anything about Mark Ingram.
5 - "Our offense really sucked in 2013."
My take: I'm so lucky to have already lost most of my hair at the young and tender age of 37 (What? 37 is the new 17, as everyone knows). Otherwise, I would have plucked every single remaining strand to quench my frustration at the reaction Saints fans had regarding the team's overall offensive production this past season. No, the Saints didn't score 40 points in every game. They didn't blow every team they faced out of the water. But in winning 11 times in the 2013 regular season, New Orleans produced the 4th overall offense in the NFL (399.4 yards/game), 4th in first downs/game (22.4), 3rd in third down efficiency (43.9 %), 2nd in time of possession (32.41 minutes/game) and 10th in scoring (25.9 points/game). Apart from all that, they were downright awful.
What you should do: Remind them that once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, they would have gladly taken an 8-8 record, a split of the season series with the Atlanta Falcons and a grinning interception-prone quarterback I will not name here. Then you should probably run.