I just enjoyed an NFC Championship Game between two teams that I really like.
Several sportswriters have been so moved, they have written that this win has single-handedly helped overcome the Saints' loser legacy.
Not so fast.
I believe that the only single win that can overcome their legacy is a win in the Super Bowl.
Is that a callous statement? Does it belittle the Saints' accomplishments this year? Let's take a closer look.
The Arizona Cardinals are a franchise with a pathetic history in the Super Bowl era. They went to the Super Bowl last year and lost. Did their NFC Championship victory alone make us forget their legacy of losing?
They still have a good team, and NFL historians may point out that the Cardinal franchise has won a world title (although 90 percent of football fans don't know this or know that they were once the St. Louis Cardinals, let alone the Chicago Cardinals). But let's be serious. They are more famous for losing.
The Bengals have played in not one, but two Super Bowls. They lost both. Despite two very good seasons, they are more famous as the "Bungles" than they are for "the Icky Shuffle."
If you think just getting to the big show can wipe away years of futility in the memories of the masses, just ask Viking fans or the Bills fans. Both teams played in four Super Bowls—both lost all four Super Bowls.
And both share the distinction of being the best of the loser franchises (although Buffalo gets the slight loser edge for losing four in a row, a truly unique achievement in loser franchise history).
Maybe you still don't believe me. Let's look at this from a different angle.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the poster children for loser franchises. They had the original perfect losing season in their first year as a franchise in 1976. They kept the loser brand going strong for over two decades of historically bad football.
One Super Bowl win (and one uniform change) later, and they have shed their loser image. Although this season served as a vague reminder, the memory of the "Yucks" remain firmly in the past. The Tampa Bay/Green Bay game is no longer referred to as the "Bay of Pigs".
The New York Jets are one of the historically pathetic franchises in the NFL. They played in only one Super Bowl, and that was in the late sixties. I wasn't even alive yet to see it, and many players who played in that game aren't alive now.
But the Jets won the game, and by doing so engraved their own special niche in NFL history. To this day, if you stumble upon any NFL Films special, you are ten times more likely to see a segment about the Jets than you are about the Saints, Bengals, Bills, or Vikings (unless it is an NFL blooper special).
I hope the Saints take destiny in their hands and write their own chapter in the NFL history books.
But if they don't, the story won't be about the Saints regaining respectability. It will be about the unbelievably ironic bad luck that resulted from the son of the Saints' most celebrated QB dealing the Saints their hardest blow in their sad history.
It will be on a par with Cubs fan Steve Bartman reaching out and ruining the Chicago Cubs best chances of winning a World Series in a hundred years.
The difference between winning and losing this Super Bowl for the Saints is the difference between purging the past and becoming a loser franchise's most shining example of failure.
Good luck guys. I'll be pulling for you!