The 2010 New Orleans Saints season was unlike any that Who Dat Nation had ever witnessed. As the fans enjoyed the afterglow of the Saints' freshly minted World Championship, the team made their way through a winning, but unspectacular season. The hopes of a repeat championship came unglued famously in the Wild Card round against the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks.
As crushingly disappointing as the season concluded, the season arguably started in a slightly disappointing manner as well. On opening night of the 2010 NFL season, the stage was set for an unparalleled celebration for the city of New Orleans and every Saints fan worldwide. It was a strange dichotomy, in many ways, the season took an eternity to start as well as the feeling that it started too soon. The Saints being the last team standing in 2009 made for the shortest offseason they and the fans had ever experienced.
The offseason seemed to focus on why Peyton Manning lost the Super Bowl, and how Brett Favre or Tony Romo would capture the title in 2010, leaving many Saints fans to ask why the lack of respect. Conversely, there was the feeling that the offseason championship party was just ramping up when the Saints began to work on the next season. Despite this, outside of Atlanta, there was no better opponent for the Saints to open their post-championship season against than the Minnesota Vikings, the team that battled the Saints into overtime in the NFC Championship game that prior January.
The Saints would unveil their long-awaited World Championship banner in front of the franchise whose own banner has eluded them their entire history. The rivalry, while short, was bitter and contentious. The Saints led the NFC for the entirety of the 2009 season, but the Vikings were always there, within striking distance. When the two finally met, with a trip to Super Bowl XLIV on the line, the game lived up to the billing. This rematch though, not as much.
While the January game was a 31-28 overtime thriller (with much higher stakes of course), this season opener was a more plodding and methodical game, a game the Saints also won 14-9. The playoff game was a tightrope act that drained both teams and both team's fan bases. This raised the stakes and the hype for this game, and this game unfortunately suffered by comparison. The Saints won that night, and a banner that spoke volumes was revealed, but something was missing in that moment.
I'll start the conversation
I was, like most of you, anticipating this game from the moment it was announced. Due to the celebratory nature of the game, it felt like equal parts celebration and Saints game. We had friends over and took in the whole unique nature of what this 2010 kickoff game represented for the Saints. The game itself was fine. Sure, compared to the hype and anticipation, it fell a bit flat, but the Saints had some great moments, and the defense showed what it would ultimately be for the season.
My big problem with that evening really had nothing to do with the game itself, but the pre-game festivities (or lack thereof) that preceded it. This was the thing that was most missing from that night. We all had the entire offseason to look forward to this moment, and when the moment came, it could have been so much more. In fact, it had been more for most of the recent Super Bowl champions during that time.
I remember watching the 2007 season opener, when the Saints were in Indianapolis for the Colts' Super Bowl XLI banner raising. The NFL, NBC, or Colts organization did a fantastic job of making the pageantry and excitement of that moment quite palpable. Knowing that the Saints had come as close to having their own championship culmination as they ever had before, only left me anticipating our own moment even more.
Whether it was the NFL, NBC, or the Saints organization itself, someone dropped the ball on the Saints' coronation, as it paled in comparison to the Colts, Giants, and Steelers opening ceremonies in the years before it. Those ceremonies weren't exponentially better, but the Saints banner reveal appeared rushed and anti-climactic. New Orleans had all of the potential to do it better, to add a unique and memorable twist to the pomp and circumstance. In the end, it was over before it even began.
It was all very paint-by-numbers. Marching band? Check. Harry Connick, Jr. on an NFL approved "Mardi-Gras" float? Check. When The Saints Go Marching In? Check. Pull the banner, boom. Pop some streamers, done. The whole deal was done in less than a minute. The Saints took the field and the 2010 season began. It just came across as the NFL's watered-down version of what it could have been, especially in the shadow of the Saints' "Lombardi Gras" Super Bowl parade. All biases aside, that was the most spectacular championship parade any NFL city had ever put together, it raised the bar and has yet to be matched.
Although it was a missed opportunity for something special, seeing the Super Bowl XLIV Champions banner revealed will remain one of the more memorable moments in Saints history.
Tell us your impressions and memories from that special night in Saints history. Where were you, Who Dat Nation?