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A Saints Fan’s Super Bowl Survival Kit

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When the Saints are not playing in the Super Bowl, it is difficult to figure out which team to support. Last year it was simple, this year is a bit more difficult, but there are some intriguing storylines and some very familiar faces.

NFC Championship - Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles
Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Every year around this time, regardless of who is playing, I get prepared to watch the Super Bowl. There was this one year when I was distinctly more excited than others, but outside of that, it’s the same routine. Who would I most like to see when the game? I’ve noticed the closer the Saints get to the big game and don’t make it, the less I feel capable of truly selecting a team to cheer for in the game.

Last year, it was simple. God by all means, please don’t let the Atlanta Falcons win a Super Bowl. If you ever want to see pain or true heartache, be a Saints fan living in Atlanta when this city is insufferably excited about the Falcons. Praise be to the Almighty the Patriots took care of that problem last year, and the Eagles erased the issue this year. However, based on the phone calls I’ve received, the Falcons fans are equally as grateful for the Vikings. With that being said, on to the yearly question, who should we as Saints fans cheer for in this Super Bowl.

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

What’s intriguing this year for Saints fans initially is that there are familiar faces on both sides. The Patriots number one receiver, the arrow-shooting speedster Brandin Cooks, served in that very same role here last season. While towards the end he exhibited signs of a mini-malcontent, or some may say a passive-aggressive diva. I would say he was one of the hardest working, most-dedicated, relentless pursuers of excellence on the team outside of Drew Brees.

Through his time with the Saints, I read countless articles highlighting his private offseason workouts with Brees, his emulation sessions with Antonio Brown, and the intensity of his individual workouts. However, some fans believe that his selfishness led to the break-up of what should have been the best young WR group in the league for years to come. While there was a noticeable dip in explosive plays from the WR group this season, his departure led to the Saints drafting Ryan Ramczyk, who served quite admirable as the right tackle this season after the injury to Zach Strief. One could say No harm, no foul, but I’m sure there are some Saints fans that would hate to see him hoisting the Lombardi next Sunday. So, cheering for or against Cooks could be a valid option.

On the other side, there are a few more familiar faces. However, the relationship is entirely different based on the way they left. Almost every Eagles player that was a former Saint was cast aside in some way by the Saints in favor of better, younger, or more reliable talent. We can start with the biggest name in Malcolm Jenkins. Saints fans loved and hated Jenkins during his time in New Orleans. Jenkins, along with Roman Harper, served as a fairly decent tandem. However, at times they exhibited clear weakness in pass defense and were not true playmakers in terms of creating turnovers. This made Jenkins expendable, once the big name Buffalo Bills ball-hawking Free Safety Jairus Byrd became available. The Saints parted ways with Jenkins. He then signed with the Eagles and he has arguably made Saints fans regret his departure ever since.

Darren Sproles came in as a quick replacement for Reggie Bush. I remember the night we lost Reggie Bush, with the trade to Miami, and how quickly we obtained Sproles after that transaction. The city quickly embraced him, and he rewarded the Saints for their faith in him with record-breaking performances while in Sean Payton’s offense. The Saints later believed Sproles started to show signs of aging and chose to move on from the diminutive superstar.

The Saints and the entire league would quickly find out the Sproles hadn’t lost a step, but he would be in an Eagles uniform while showing them. Sproles will not be playing in this upcoming game, but if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, Sproles will get his first ring. For a 5-foot-6 running back coming from Kansas State, who most people believed was only a gimmick player, to get a reward for all the contributions and other major accomplishments he has in this league would be great to see.

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Dannell Ellerbe was always a flash player for the Saints while on the roster (when available). At times, he looked like our absolute best linebacker. I can vividly remember seeing him come off the edge like an untamed boar in one game, as he ripped the head off the opposing quarterback. However, for every play I remember, I also recall 13 or so Twitter injury status updates saying Ellerbe “like usual” is doubtful or out.

The Saints eventually grew tired of the inconsistency and cut ties with Ellerbe this season. Midway through the year, Ellerbe found himself donning the green bird suit, and now he too is headed the Super Bowl. I’ve seen him make several flash plays for the Eagles as well. Can Saints fan forgive his fragility and cheers for his success? Some will think about the money we wasted on the investment in him, while others may simply be happy that he is finally somewhat healthy. Although, he did start off the playoffs on the Eagles injury report listed as questionable. That sounds far too familiar.

Divisional Round - Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Patrick Robinson represents the story of the typical late bloomer. The only problem is that he bloomed too late to be of any use to the team that drafted him. For years, the Saints desperately needed help at the cornerback position, and yearly fans were sold on the “vast improvement” of Patrick Robinson and every season that he was with the club his potential never truly equated to production. Watching him pick off Case Keenum and amazingly find his way to the corner of the end zone kicking off the Eagles avalanche was a bit frustrating for most. Understanding that by the point in his career he has traveled to at least two other teams since leaving the Saints, does soften the blow a bit, but it’s still a bit of a sting.

New Orleans Saints v New York Giants

It’s been so long some fans may not remember selecting the Florida State product with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. The Saints were on such a high that most didn’t care that in the very next round the Saints missed on Rob Gronkowski, T.J. Ward, Lamarr Houston, Carlos Dunlap, and Golden Tate. Those players were all drafted, after Patrick Robinson and become major contributors for their teams. While the Saints drew no benefit from the investment they made in Robinson. Longtime Saints fans may find it hard to cheer for him as he finds himself a relied upon weapon for the Eagles.

So I guess the question remains, who can Saints fans cheer for and feel legitimately good about giving support to that team. Some may choose to simply cheer for greatness? Tom Brady like Drew Brees, is defying the odds and resetting expectations with every passing play. Players shouldn’t be MVP candidates at the age of 40. Most athletes are well beyond their top-level competitive years at that point unless they are kickers or they play golf. They most definitely shouldn’t be able to come back from 25 points down to defeat a far more talented team on the grandest stage of them all, but somehow Brady did, and Brady often does.

Every great thing that happens to the 40-year-old Brady gives Saints Fans hope that their years with Brees, may not be ending as quickly as most predict. If fans say every year for the next 5 years that Drew Brees has about 2 to 3 more good years left in him, that’s fine with me. With that being said, Brees is not in a position to win his 6th Super Bowl. Tom Brady may be greatness akin to Michael Jordan in the NBA. While some may hate that, cheering to see history unfold before you is an option as well.

New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints talk after the game at Gillette Stadium.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Either way, you decide two things are clear, the New Orleans Saints won’t be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, but you are most likely going to be watching. Therefore, here are a few options for Saints fans:

  • Option One: You pick a storyline you like and ride it (ironic advice).
  • Option Two: Find a friend and either cheer for their happiness or their tears. In this age of pettiness, I’m sure creating a few demeaning memes could be a bit entertaining while watching at least one team get close but not quite win it all. I’m sure there is a way to also remind the Falcons what happened in last year’s game if the Pats or Eagles get off to an early lead.
  • Option Three: Play some Daily Fantasy and cheer for the players you select, why not win some money while watching the game.
  • Option Four: Scout some potential future Saints that may join the roster through free agency this off-season.

Malcolm Butler (CB), Nate Solder (OT), and pass catching back Dion Lewis are all New England Patriots that hit the market this offseason. The Saints’ interest in Butler was well documented during the last offseason, and he has shined on this stage in the past, so keep an eye on him.

Outside linebacker Nigel Bradham and tight end Trey Burton are two of the Eagles top free agents. Several experts have linked Trey Burton to a list of potential Saints targets so giving him a look over may be worth it.

Whatever you decide, be sure to at least get full on some amazing New Orleans style food (Most will be stuck with pizza), catch a few “spirits”, and be around people you love, because rather we are playing or not this a very special time of the year.

Good Luck.