This is a post so long overdue, a non-fan put up his own thoughts about watching the Saints in Phnom Penh. Thanks John!
My interest in the Saints was piqued because after 43 years of solid mismanagement and dysfunction, this team is a study in how to lead a disparate group of “rejects” to success.
Drew Brees was cast off from San Diego. Reggie Bush was passed over by Houston. Jonathan Vilma was expendable as a Jet. Pierre Thomas wasn’t considered a draftable NFL prospect. Marques Colston was drafted… in the seventh round. Only so many bad breaks can happen to a group of young men. Right?
I also found that unlike many sports where the sheer simplicity of a game is pure agony to watch for its lack of mental stimulation, American football is like business strategy speeded up. There’s a lot to learn from the sheer amount of coordination and strategy in these games.
Plus I’d never been to a game before, nor was much of a fan, until this year’s trip back home. But friends scored us some great seats at the Superdome, and man was that over the top and a LOT OF FUN!
And then finally I was sold after reading about the civic and charitable work the players and coaches do in the New Orleans area, becoming an integral part of the region’s recovery after Katrina. I even follow Drew Brees’ twitter feed now! (I don’t normally go gaga for athletes but he’s so articulate, smart and civic-minded I can’t help but drool over this guy!)
“I never had followed football but became an instant Saints fanatic because there was no single organization that was holding together the spirit of the people in this community like the Saints,” said Natalie Jayroe, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans.
(For anyone who ever lived in or loves New Orleans, this piece by Wright Thompson in ESPN, Saints the Soul of America’s City, is beautiful and really quite touching.)
And what a moving season it was, for those of you who watch football and saw the Superbowl. No objective stats supported this team’s ability to make it this far, much less take the title. Hardly any pundit or gambler put their money on the Saints. The only things behind their momentum was a lot of desire, an intensely loyal fan base (win or lose New Orleans was going to throw this team a party!), and a singular belief by both the team and its city that this was the year.
It didn’t make any sense, and that is the brilliance of it. So in keeping with a great American tradition, I need to own that game! I wish I could’ve been in New Orleans for all of it, but glad to have a great crowd in Phnom Penh to watch it with!