I have written many game previews and a few game recaps, but i have never written a good meaningful article on my favorite and beloved New Orleans Saints. Of course I haven't been a Saints fan throughout their entire franchise history, considering I'm only seventeen, but my dad has told me some of the biggest heartbreak stories that kill me even though I wasn't alive.
The Saints started in 1967 in a secret conference between an NFL commissioner and a congressman. After entering the NFL it took the New Orleans Saints over ten years to even get to a .500 season, and in 1980 Dick Nolan led the Saints to 0-12, was fired and then Dick Stanfel finished it 1-15 (only matched and beaten by the 08' Lions at 0-16). If this isn't heart breaking enough please keep reading.
I need to add some quick history before I start this paragraph. In 1969, the Saints moved from the Capital Division to the Coastal Division (replacing the Baltimore Colts who moved to the AFC). The Coastal Division would become the NFC West that held some of the best teams from about 1985-2000. Teams that were in it were the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and the Atlanta Falcons.
Here's where my dads stories come into place. In 1986, Jim Mora is assigned the head coaching job of the team. In 1987 Mora led the New Orleans Saints to their first season over .500 at 12-3 (2nd best in the NFL that year), and because of the 49ers (13-2, best that year) the Saints would only get a wild card. In the Saints first appearance in the playoffs, they would get hammered 44-10 by the Vikings. This would start Mora's notorious post-season record.
In 88' Mora would bounce back though and lead the old Black and Gold to 10-6. This still wasn't good enough considering there was a three way tie. The 49ers had the best division record and the Rams were a little better than the Saints. In 1990 the Saints at 8-8 barely made a wild card but would lose to the Chicago Bears. Mora is now 0-2 in playoff games but wait its gets better!
1991 was a historic year for the New Orleans Saints. The team went 7-0 and finished with an overall record of 11-5, winning the NFC West and the first division title for the Saints. Mora of course lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons 27-20. This would be the longest undefeated streak by the Saints (7 games) that is currently being threatened by the 09' 6-0 Saints.
The year I was born (1992) the Saints made another incredible season. With 12 wins, the Saints would get screwed again by the 49ers who would finish 14-2. The Saints grab yet another wild card and lose to the Eagles. This would be the last playoff game Mora would see as he finished 0-4 in his reign with the New Orleans Saints.
My dad has told me all kinds of stories of how Mora was so great but just couldn't win a playoff game. It was like he was cursed. He would also tell me of all these stories on how the 49ers or Rams would win with a last second made or missed field goal by the Saints, and how his heart would just sink. To me, the 49ers are the biggest rivals of the Saints (thanks to my old man), and my dad has turned me into a monster when the Saints square off against the 49ers. Of course we don't play them as much, but I love when the Saints take them down. Think, they have messed up the Saints so many times with amazing records and last minute heartbreaks. Oh, the thought of 49ers should bring a blow to the head of any Saints fan.
Mike Ditka did nothing with the Saints except two terrible seasons and Jim Haslett joins the crew in 2000. In his first year (And I remember this) everyone thought he was the "chosen one". After a 10-6 season, Haslett won the NFC West (2nd time in franchise history) and made Saints history with a post-season win against the St. Louis Rams. With a couple .500 season and only one winning season (After the 10-6 season), Haslett was fired with his last, disgusting 3-13 record.
This is pretty much where my Saints history comes in. I remember Haslett creating some really flat, unexciting football with the then "Aints". After the great 10-6 season everything just fell apart and Haslett wasn't doing anything productive.
In 2006 Sean Payton was hired and Aaron Brooks was replaced by Drew Brees. In Payton's first year, he became the new "chosen one". He also led the team to a 10-6 season giving the Saints their third division title and its first as an NFC South team. He also took the Saints to the NFC Championship, the farthest the Who Dats have ever been in the playoffs. Of course, many thought Payton would end like Haslett though after finishing his second season 7-9 and then in 2008 creating a .500 season, but he refused to make just another Aints team. He is currently leading the Saints 6-0 and the team is rolling along.
So, after 42 years of Saints and Aints football, they have never won the NFC Championship, only have won three division titles, created one of the worst season records at 1-15, been abused by the 49ers and Rams many times, have a post season record of 3-6, and are easily the biggest heart sinking team in the NFL. They invented putting bags on your head, come on! Dare to disagree?