Where we've been...
For Saints fans, memory lane can be a bumpy road that opens old wounds and replays unforgettable memories. An abused and unwaveringly loyal fan base, New Orleans fans have seen more downs than ups throughout the history of the franchise.
Here is a look at the 10 most surreal memories of the last 20 years... some good, some bad, all surreal.
I can’t explain how “cha-ching” became the war cry for an entire fan base, but it certainly did.
As a kid, this commercial was greatness and I remember reciting it verbatim until my parents threatened to ground me.
Shirts, hats, flags, everything had “cha-ching” on it.
Just as Hollywood somehow endeared Seth Green to the world, this commercial made him an eternal fixture in the hearts and minds of early 90’s Saints fans.
Leading 20-10 entering the fourth quarter in the Superdome, it appeared as though the Saints were on their way to snapping a two Wild Card game losing streak en route to the first playoff victory in franchise history.
Not so much.
The Eagles scored 26 fourth-quarter points (29 consecutive points) to end the Saints season and send my grandparents closer to a premature death.
Mike Ditka traded the Saints’ 1999 first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh-round draft picks along with the team’s 2000 first and third picks to Washington for the right to draft Ricky Williams.
While at the time I was drinking (smoking?) the Ricky juice and sporting the wig dreads in the Dome, I’m convinced that Jerry Jones and Al Davis simultaneously turned to one another that day and called Ditka a damned fool.
With Ditka hitting up the golf course like draft day was senior skip day and Ricky hiring Master P as his sports agent, this was never intended to end well for anyone involved.
Ricky and Iron Mike gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated (Ricky in a wedding dress and Ditka in a tux) said it all... for better or worse. The dowry: the future.
A week after the Saints gave up an end-of-the-half Hail Mary to the Giants, Tim Couch threw a prayer to Kevin Johnson to steal a valuable midseason win in the Superdome and claim the first victory for the expansion-team Cleveland Browns.
Why should a new franchise not win at New Orleans eight games into the year with a 56-yard bomb from a rookie QB as time expired?
Damien Robinson attempted to decapitate Aaron Brooks on a QB run around the left end.
Kyle Turley don't play that.
Turley snapped into a rage befitting his tattoo sleeves and heavy metal hair, perfectly executed several WWF moves and surfaced from the pile with Robinson’s helmet which he tossed up the field.
I don’t know how many Saints offensive tackles I’ll remember 30 years from now, but Turley is one I’ll never forget.
The Saints signed former beer delivery man Michael Lewis who became a fan favorite and one hell of a story.
Lewis played no college football and after bouncing around several indoor football teams, he returned to his hometown of New Orleans to drive a beer delivery truck.
The Saints gave him a shot in 2002 and the rest is fanfare lore.
Beer truck to Pro Bowl… doesn’t get much better than that.
With a potential trip to the playoffs on the line, the Saints were down to one play on the road at the Jacksonville Jaguars: six seconds remaining, 75 yards from the end zone… the Saints pulled off one of the most miraculous, spectacular finishes in NFL history with a series of lateral passes that culminated in a Jerome Pathon touchdown that appeared to be sending the game to overtime.
As the team celebrated on the sideline, John Carney (who hadn’t missed an extra point in eight consecutive seasons as a pro) pushed the PAT right… right through my heart… putting a perpetual semi-colon in the books where there should have been an (extra) exclamation point.
This is a play that I will never forget because it cemented in my mind that, despite the fact Brooks won the first playoff game in franchise history a few seasons before, the Saints were possibly multiple starting quarterbacks away from being a contender.
When he followed the play with a televised grin on the sideline, every Saints fan died a little inside.
Meanwhile, Brooks’ former backup was busy leading division rival and expansion team Carolina to a Super Bowl.
This is perhaps the dumbest thing a UVA grad (I contend Brooks’ degree should be under federal investigation) has ever been a part of.
The Madden video game franchise incorporated a similar backward pass in the years following this play as a “glitch feature” to advance the world’s agenda of humiliating Saints fans.
An event that drenched the spirits of a city also impacted the Saints franchise immensely.
As the National Guard slept in the team locker room and unspeakable acts of violence, desperation and destitution unfolded throughout the Superdome, an American city was shaken to its core.
Logistically, Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints into a gypsy season and ignited the possibility of owner Tom Benson moving the team permanently away from New Orleans.
In the end, Benson got it right and stuck by the city that deserved nothing less.
When the Saints hosted the Falcons in 2006 and reopened the Superdome, the sports world was treated to one of the more feel-good evenings in sports history.
Steve Gleason’s blocked punt in the first quarter and the subsequent scoop and score sent the Superdome into a frenzy that left even the announcers speechless for longer than I’ve ever heard a television analyst stop talking.
The top of the mountain.
Today, the Super Bowl victory feels real, official and a part of Saints history, but this was a surreal memory for an abused fan base the morning after.
When the masses dumped out of the bars into Bourbon Street that February night, there was electricity in the air that even one of the world’s most electric cities had never experienced.
The curse, the emotional beat down of being a Saints fan, was gone forever.
For me, it’s still surreal.