It's been tough times as a Saints fan recently. The losses have been persistent and frustrating this month. We have had to deal with the stunning loss of Will Smith, followed quickly by the saddening loss of Hokie Gajan. I, like many of us, now have to endure a personal loss who had a love for the Saints we all share.
I am a Saints fan for two primary reasons: I was born in New Orleans, and my father was a Saints fan. My Dad, Wallace Delery Jr. passed away this week, and many of the memories that have flooded my mind have involved the Saints in some form or fashion. Many of these memories have brought a smile to my face the past few days. The Saints ran a thread through our lives that I hadn't really thought much about before now.
One of the moments that really stands out was a brief and simple one. It had been roughly six months since I had talked to my Dad when Tracy Porter was being mobbed by his teammates in the Colts endzone following the epic pick six in Super Bowl XLIV. At that moment the familiar 504 came up on my phone as it began to ring. The first words I heard as I answered the phone were "We did it, huh, Son?". In that moment, we were so proud, all the waiting, all the fruitless seasons, it was all worth that moment. The Saints gave us that and for that I am grateful.
For years now I've planned to make it out to New Orleans and finally see a game in person. I've never attended a game in the Superdome, in fact, when the Saints travel to San Diego this October, it will mark the first time I've ever seen the Saints in person. But I've never seen them at home. I just figured when the day came, I'd try to take Dad to the game with me. Unfortunately, that day won't come as planned, but someday it will in spirit.
Many of us have that parent, grandparent, or caregiver that loved the Saints like they loved us. The Saints are family to us all. That's why we're here. That's why we care so much. Just like these loved ones, we are frustrated with their failings, with their bad decisions, but when they succeed, they do us proud. So proud. Like family, we share in their successes, when they win, we all win.
We love the Saints unconditionally, it's why we put up with the nonsense, with the heartbreak. For those moments of pride, those little moments of ultimate success, it's all worth it. In many ways, my relationship with my father is a lot like my relationship with the Saints. There'd been varying degrees of heartbreak and joy, frustration and jubilation, and ultimately, forgiveness and compassion. It's our journeys in life, with the Saints as the backdrop, that have made all of us the sons, the daughters, and the Saints fans we are today.
With all this I say: take your Dad to that Saints game, take your Mom, your grandparent. Maybe just go watch a game on television with them this season. Simply pick up the phone and say "Who Dat!". Share some old stories and memories of seasons gone by, and you'll create some new ones in the process. The common thread of something as trivial as a football team is actually anything but trivial.
Life has, and will continue to become, increasingly complicated. Just try to take some time to remember the moments the Saints have been a part of with the ones you love, and take those opportunities to enjoy the Saints with your loved ones while they're still with us. I'm grateful, in that moment, my dad and I got to enjoy the Saints finally making champions of us all. I miss you, Dad. For all the family and friends we've lost and to those who are with us still, I say Who Dat.