If you have been paying attention, New Orleans has been in party mode ever since beating the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship with a field goal in overtime.
As much as the fans would have liked see their team blow the Vikings out of the water, the feeling of watching that field goal go through must have been euphoric.
Having relatives that live in St. Rose (a parish just outside New Orleans), I know the pain of being a Saints fan prior to 2005 (when they made the NFC Championship).
They used to come down every Thanksgiving, and my dad and uncle would talk football and watch it on the Sunday they were here. Since we're in Texas, we would usually get the Saints game, and I still remember the frustration on my uncle's face when he would watch, along with the swearing and throwing of the remote.
My uncle passed away this past fall, and I'd like to think the Saints would want to win this one for him. After 30-plus years of being a loyal fan, it pains me that he can't be here to celebrate the success.
His spirit lives on, and I will be rooting for the Saints on Super Sunday in his memory.
The Saints have never really been in contention for anything until the last five years, often donning the nickname "The 'Aints." In the 42 years of the franchise's history, they have seven playoff appearances and only four division championships.
In fact, the Saints did not make the playoffs in the first 20 years of their existence. They have been getting progressively better since the '90s, though, and it is all coming together for a city that is as loyal to its team as any other city, if not more so.
Oftentimes when a bad team comes out of nowhere to make the Super Bowl, much like the Saints did (you couldn't say you expected this during the preseason), you see people coming out of the woodwork with their Saints gear.
While it did happen to some extent, it didn't happen much as any other team in recent years. I was amazed at the amount of Tampa Bay hats that surfaced after the Rays made the World Series a couple years ago.
Saints fans have always been loyal, and they have one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, regardless of how successful they are.
Before you scroll down to the bottom and comment on how loyal you are to your team, just Google the Saints history and see how bleak it has been, basically forever.
There is another angle I wanted to address as to why Saints fans deserve this.
I doubt I need to remind you of the destruction that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused to the city, Katrina especially.
After Katrina, the Superdome was used for refuge and was so damaged that the team was forced to play all its home games on the road.
I know what it is like to have a team ripped from you—just ask Oilers fans—but at least Saints fans still got to watch them on TV.
Houses were destroyed; streets were flooded for weeks; some were without power for nearly a month. I remember driving to New Orleans for my cousin's wedding in April of 2006, nine months after Katrina. As we crossed the border, the blue tarps on the roofs started to show up, trees were still all over the place, and houses were still in shambles.
My uncle took my mom and brother on a tour of the damage, and they used one phrase to describe the feeling of seeing all of it—"shell-shocked."
The re-opening of the Superdome was a Monday Night Football affair against the Falcons—I don't remember a louder stadium, and I was just watching on TV.
I know there are other teams that have not won a Super Bowl, but I can't help feeling like the Saints deserve this. If it happens, Mardi Gras will start a little early this year.
Here's to you, Saints fans; your loyalty has paid off.
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