It all started with Green Day, and The Saints Were Coming. (Give me Billy Joe Armstrong over the treacly sanctimony of U2 every time.) Everybody was still in a post-Katrina combination of panic, worry and thousand-yard stare, but the team was home again, and it was as if the FDA had just declared that half-gallon hurricanes and trout panéed in butter & smothered with crabmeat were health food. Our beloved Saints had just started with two unexpected, odd-looking road wins at Cleveland and Green Bay, and besides, it was the Falcons.
Then the world exploded with a blocked punt, and there is our new rebuilt quarterback laying out a block to spring Devery Henderson on an end-around touchdown, and we were off, with no idea where we were going, but at least we were going.
Look, I haven’t been able to look at anything Saints-related since the loss Sunday night. No ESPN, no nola.com, no saintsreport.com, no canalstreetchronicles, a little twitter only for the politics and NBA news. Just been sitting silent, alone in a quiet mental room, trying to process, which is how I handle this sort of thing.
(OK, the reason “I haven’t been able to look at anything” is that I’ve been dead drunk every moment since the game ended, as evidenced by the empty handle of Tito’s and the 90% killed quart of Jim Beam on the floor, while making my hero Dr. Hunter S. Thompson look like a temperance marcher. But, verily, is that not processing?)
So, if in the interim, you’ve read or heard anything that sounds familiar to what follows, apologies for any redundancy, but this is all my own.
Nobody needs a recount of the history. Our fact-memory banks are already packed full of all the statistics, records and remembered highlights they will ever need about the Brees Era, far more detailed than even one of those canned obituaries about famous people that are pre-written by [what used to be] newspapers so they can be ready to publish a comprehensive seventy-column-inch retrospective on the life of a dead celebrity before the body even hits the ground.
Instead of history you get elegy, in the odd sort of Greco-Judaic mix of mythology that you were all waiting for me to deliver.
In the beginning was Sisyphus, the tragic hero of Greek mythology noted for cleverness and twice cheating death, in return for which a jealous Roger Good–, umm, Zeus condemned him to push for eternity a large rock up a big hill, only to have the rock roll all the way back down right before it reached the top.
You can fill in the blanks.
And then there was Job. (Now, I had always hoped that poor Job was nothing more than a subject of God’s version of Punk’d, but sadly I have nothing to back that up.) Job was a righteous but modest fellow of deep faith, generous to a fault. For reasons He has never quite explained, He let Roger Good–, umm, Satan basically destroy Job’s life, crushing his businesses, killing his children, festering him with boils, breaking his ribs, suspending his coach, and sending him Bill Vinovich and Gregg Williams, but Job would look within and find the strength to never complain and to refuse to blame.
You can fill in those blanks, too.
We know that there are still no references to Drew Brees in the Bible, nor in a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology. But we also know that by god he should be in both.
Now, all was not Death, Destruction, Pestilence and Famine. There were glorious wins, especially at home; dominance over the Falcons; regular playoff appearances; and all those astonishing records, usually achieved with a collection of skill position players that Mickey Loomis had lured into the bed of his pickup truck outside a Lowe’s early that Sunday morning with a promise of fifty bucks for a day’s manual labor.
And of course, that one Lombardi. The one thing I’ve always believed is that, if you ever get to a Super Bowl, or the finals of anything, you goddamn well better win it.
Just ask Dan Marino.
Or the Falcons.
And we did, and they can never ever ever ever take that away from him or us. If you want to see the chasm, the horror, the cold ultimate duality between “one” and “none,” there it is right there. Try to imagine the last 15 years without that Super Bowl. Or don’t. Not now, or in a million years.
As some of you may know, I have been a ride-or-die Saints lifer since there happened to be that extra ticket, and so that wee little boy was taken to the home opener in 1967 to watch John Gilliam be the team’s high-water mark for the next 33 years. I’ve not just seen a thing or two. I’ve seen it all, and I know what to say about the last 15 years.
As we opened, let us close with Green Day:
I know we had the time of our lives.
Peace, out, and WHO DAT SAY DEY GONNA BEAT DEM SAINTS?