The final game of the 2009-2010 season is upon us and everyone from Indiana all the way to Louisiana, and a couple people outside of those states are excited about the match-up. The similarities between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are abundant. Both teams started the season 13-0, retained home field advantage throughout their respective championship runs, and have dynamic offenses saddled by top-tier Quarterbacks. Both combatants have defenses that have shown flashes of brilliance this year and tend to rely on speed and pursuit to stop opposing offenses.
People have been waiting to see these teams meet all season, and unlike some previous seasons, actually will have the opportunity. The obviously dramatic match-ups for this Super Bowl were either the Jets and Vikings or Saints and Colts. Had the Jets bested the Colts and Brett Favre tucked it and ran with 17 seconds to go in the NFC Championship, we’d be talking about 40-year-old Brett Favre facing the team he took snaps for in 2008-09.
Fortunately for NFL Fans, we’re not watching the Saints and Jets. Those two teams have absolutely zero history and even less drama between them. The only tie I can even make between them is that Saints starting LB Jonathan Vilma started his career with the Jets, only to be sent packing when former Jets Head Coach Eric Man-gina came to town and changed the defensive scheme to a 3-4 package. Vilma struggled the first season before moving back into a 4-3 set in New Orleans. Not exactly the same drama that Brett Favre vs. NYJ or Manning vs. Brees delivers that’s for sure.
The conversation around Manning vs. Brees has to do with the legitimacy of Drew Brees. In the last three years he has submitted his name into the ranks of Manning and Brady, but lacks the shiny finger ornament that justifies the careers of all great quarterbacks (sorry Dan Marino). If he wins on Sunday, Drew is likely to be in New Orleans the rest of his career and leave behind a legacy as the greatest quarterback in a city that will soon be under water.
The last “great” quarterback for the New Orleans Saints was the father of Peyton and Eli Manning, Archie. What made Archie Manning great? I have no idea. I saw a clip of him running around getting chased by defenders once, but that’s pretty much the extent of my memories of watching him play. The stats don’t really tell the story either. In 14 seasons with the Saints, Oilers, and Vikings, Archie had zero winning seasons. His most successful season by far was the 1979 campaign when he led the Saints to an 8-8 season with 15 TD’s / 20 INT’s and inexplicably one of two career Pro Bowl appearances. By far, Archie’s greatest contribution to the game of football are his two sons, and the uncanny ability to make analysts and color commentators forget his Rodney Peete-esque statistics, and label him as a “great” quarterback.
The only thing in the world that could make Saints fans forget all about Archie Manning and remind them of how little he actually accomplished for the franchise is a Saints Super Bowl win on Sunday. Of course, fairy tales of fabled follied fathers of future Hall of Famers fail to foretell football future. That will have to be decided, like all other games, on the gridiron…
Or in this case, by Madden NFL10.