It's with great reluctance I do this, but I just wanted to offer my congratulations to Who Dat Nation and the New Orleans Saints for joining the Super Bowl Champions club.
As a feature columnist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I have a great affinity for the franchise I cover. I took a little pride in the Buccaneers being the only team in the NFC South to have a Lombardi.
While I know it lacks some professionalism, I wear my allegiances pretty clearly and do not pretend to be objective.
A dirty little secret? Most folks who cover these teams can't help but want them to do well, no one wants to be covering a 3-13 team. So, even the most "impartial" columnist is secretly rooting for the team to win...a lot.
With that in mind, I loved that the Falcons and Panthers blew their chances at immortality and simply became another forgotten "second-best" team. I enjoyed that despite the hype, New Orleans greatest claim to fame was losing in the NFC title game.
I revelled in the ability to end any argument with NFC South rivals with, "Yeah, you may be good right now...but you still don't have that ring."
The Saints for the longest time were paper champions. Every year, they would be the team that was always crowned in the pre-season magazines, only to fail.
They watched as the Bucs and Panthers took turns at division titles and the "experts" remained mystified as to why the mighty Saints never lived up to expectations.
Well, none of that any more, huh?
They did it. In the process, they broke one of the longest jinxes in the NFL.
No team that lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the regular season has ever gone on to win the Super Bowl...until now.
Deep down in that pewter and red heart of mine, there's a little happiness for the Saints and the Who Dats.
More than any other franchise, the Saints and Buccaneers are kindred spirits. Both were laughing stocks, ridiculed as the worst franchises in NFL history. The Yucks, The Aints.
The Bucs even beat the Saints for their first-ever victory in 1977.
The biggest victory of this forgotten season for the Buccaneers came at the Saints expense.
Still, not even Tampa Bay had to endure the terrible tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina. A community that was devastated by natural disaster and is still fighting for recovery so many years later finally gets to feel some joy.
It's a heck of a feeling, isn't it? When Tracy Porter picked off Peyton Manning and raced down the sidelines for the game-sealing score, I couldn't help but harken back to Super Bowl 37, when Derrick Brooks did the same thing for the Buccaneers.
Right then and there, you knew that despite your troubles, despite all the decades of losing teams and disappointing defeats, your team has overcome it all.
Your boys are the Champions of the World, baby, and they can never take it away...whomever "they" are.
The NHL Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis said after the Bolts won the Stanley Cup, "We will walk together forever." I heard Brees echo that last night and it's so true.
Forever, your 2009 New Orleans Saints will be the Super Bowl Champions. Other Super Bowl teams will come replace the Saints at the top of the mountain, but this memory, this year will last your lifetime.
So grudgingly, I and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers step aside, to make room for the new guys.
Welcome to the club. Enjoy it, revel in the feeling because it can be fleeting.
Next year, you're the hunted.