The Hall of Fame Game marks the first preseason game of the year and the start of all the madness that will ensue until February. It's finally football season. That's surely how you and I are feeling about the Hall of Fame Game.
I can only think of one collective group of people who need this more than us, the Saints. The Saints players, coaches, fans, executives and ownership. It has been one tumultuous offseason for the New Orleans Saints and it had to have felt longer than any offseason they had ever been a part of before.
The Bounty Gate scandal turned into talk of tapping into opposing coaches private lines of communication turned into a period of time where the face of the franchise, Drew Brees, looked like he may not be a Saint anymore.
Well, Drew Brees is a Saint and a rich one at that. So, of course that whole contract saga is as if it never happened. Not so lucky for head coach Sean Payton, assistant coach and interim coach Joe Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis and defensive captain Jonathan Vilma among others, but you can't win em all right?
The Detroit Lions tried their best to take some heat off the Saints painful offseason with what seemed like a record number of arrests of their own, but the only true way to put it in the past for the Saints organization is to put the product back on the field.
That's what they're good at after all. Again, Brees is back! Losing Sean Payton for the year will hurt. Losing Vilma will hurt, not as much as in years past, but it will have an effect on the team.
The Saints are still good, though. They're really good. They get to toy with that Darren Sproles guy's skill-set another year. In that offense where who knows if they just tapped into his potential as a weapon. Jimmy Graham is back, what will this be now, his fifth season playing organized football?
The Saints are good. Their offense out-dueled Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in the playoffs only to lose to the 49ers. Still they dropped 32 points on one of the top defenses in the league, on the road.
Make no mistake about it, the Saints were hungry to start the 2012 season before any of scandals and holdouts went on. All that is just extra ammunition to play their tails off this year.
So this Sunday, August 5th at 8:00 pm EST the New Orleans Saints will get the chance to buckle their chin-straps and inflict some pain on another franchise. The Arizona Cardinals will be the whipping boy to step up to the plate.
They have an exciting team they're thrilled to run out onto their field, too. They paired their star Larry Fitzgerald with their top draft pick Michael Floyd. They get to run last year's new weapon out there, Ryan Williams, who lost his rookie season seemingly before it started. They're still looking for a Kurt Warner replacement, so that will be fun.
Not to take anything away from Arizona's optimism at all, but no club in the NFL needed this game more than the Saints. It should be a delight to watch for the handful of plays that the guys we tune in for are actually playing.
Roger Goodell giveth and taketh away. What he took from the Saints is obvious and arguably deserved, but at least he gave them the first crack at the 2012 season.