Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stand by your men

I will begin by saying that I love my hometown and things associated with it with a passion. Even if those things play a game I don't care for.

Growing up, my dad would play his "Who Dat" single on game days. I have at least one distinct memory of being forced awake by it. I remember my dad reclining on his bedroom floor in front of the little TV, yelling, hitting the floor in frustration, and teaching me a lot of words I had never heard before in the process. Words that he only said on game days. I remember having to go to my friend's house to play...or if she came over, playing in the backyard due to his reactions. This was the '80s, of course.

In fact, my very pregnant mother and I got in an accident during a game one time. Dad was so frustrated, he threw the phone. And broke it.

Please note that my father is not a violent man by any means. We were not spanked. I got hit once for something, but I had it coming, for sure.

He realized that nothing was worth that sort of reaction and backed off of his team. He had been there for Dempsey's kick. I'm sure it was hard. He didn't quite kick cold turkey; instead, he would relapse from time to time. I'm sure the "Unbelievable" season was hard to stay away from. He followed them, of course, but he would pretend that he wasn't interested.

Eventually, I met and married a superfan. He's not one of those costumer people, but he is the most optimistic Saints fan I've ever met. They can be down 30 points with 2 minutes to go, and he'll say, "They can still pull it off. Watch." I'll be damned if his faith doesn't pull through way more often than it should.

Through his extreme support, I got suckered in. I don't quite remember when exactly I became a fan. I mean, while dad was there for Dempsey, we were there for the Colts beat down. You know the one.

Honestly, let's go to Katrina. Longtime readers will remember my rant that taking the Saints out of New Orleans and moving them to San Antonio was a bad, bad idea. That the city needed something to hope for. You may also recall that when my school was going to close, Reggie Bush stepped up and donated the money we still needed to stay open. You may also remember impassioned commentary on Steve Gleason's block, the reopening of the Dome, the road to the Super Bowl, and my hatred for Brett Fav-ruh. Hmmm. I think being in the Dome for the 2006 homecoming made me a fan. We went to many games that season and later seasons as well. In fact, our presence in the Dome, minus that Colts beat-down, almost guaranteed a win.

And so, while I still am not a football fan, I AM a Saints fan. I AM a New Orleans fan. If you weren't downtown when they won the Super Bowl, or one of the nearly one million people lining the victory parade route, then you just don't know what it did for this city.

For one thing, crime dipped while they were winning games that season.

Thanks, Gregg Williams. I'm holding you personally accountable for the murder rate right now.

When they announced the bounty scandal, I was hurt. But then I was confused. First, I thought they all did that. Mostly because the definition of paying a salary to a defensive player, then giving him signing bonuses and raises and renegotiated contracts is, essentially, giving bonuses for hits. They don't dock salaries if a hit takes someone out. If the hit is illegal, he will be fined.

Look at that Suh guy who essentially attempted murder in front of a national audience. Suspended for two games without pay. TWO GAMES. TWO!!! Indisputable proof in the form of the millions of witnesses who saw him stomp a dude. And that was his punishment.

Look at golden boy Belichick, who had his people SPY on opponents...a VERY illegal action. Fined. FINED!!! That was it!!!

And then here comes the team that no one thought should do anything. A team they wrote off. One of the worst in the league for most of its existence. Under Haslett, they won a playoff game. We get to Payton and Brees, and we go to the NFC championship game, only to have classy Bears fans throw snowballs with batteries at Saints fans, all while holding signs and yelling at their team to "finish what Katrina started." CLASSY.

And then they went 13-3, going undefeated until the very end. And won. And won. And went to the Super Bowl. No one thought they'd win. And then they did. Spectacularly.

While they didn't return, but they came pretty close until choking. But it's okay. "There's always next year" was the only Saints phrase uttered more often than "Who dat."

We were hoping to see them be the first home team to play in the Super Bowl.

And our coach has been suspended for an ENTIRE YEAR. Thankfully, the ringmaster, who ran bounty pools at every team he'd been with, is suspended indefinitely. I feel for the Rams. We took a coach they fired, and they got a guy who can't work in the NFL for a very, very long time. Sucks to be them.

But here's the thing. They should have all been punished for their actions. If it's not something the league allows, and is against the rules, then, yes, they needed to be punished for breaking them. If, as the new argument goes, the punishment is actually for the lies and not the bounties, then why is lying so much worse than illegal spying and malicious and blatant televised injuries? I mean, honestly. Who gets a stronger sentence? A perjurer or an attempted murderer? Apparently, the perjurer.

People are pointing fingers at former Saint Jeremy Shockey as "the snitch." Let's be honest. First of all: What does that teach anyone? It's like a gang....and a gang member just went and cut a deal with the cops and ratted out his boss for murdering someone. And now all of the gang members are up in arms, berating, threatening, burning his jersey, calling for snitches to get stitches.... DISGUSTING. The team was breaking some rules, and he reported it. If it was done in a malicious sense, as revenge, then I could see being upset. That's low to do that after leaving. Have they even confirmed it was him? A commentator says he "heard" it was him, and the whole state began crucifying him. Someone even changed his Wikipedia page to call him an "American football snitch for the Carolina Panthers." Sick. Whether he did it or not, that is sick.

Another big uproar is everyone screaming about how this is the NFL trying to keep us from winning the Super Bowl at home. Seriously? That's putting the cart before the horse, amongst other things. If we had won the NFC Championship already, then, yeah, maybe. But it's not even the 2012 season yet. Does this mean I didn't think they could do it? No. I know they could. I'm just cautiously optimistic.

And now, everyone apparently believes that now, they have no way to win. I was not aware that a football game is won only on the part of one coach. Yeah. It sucks. But I'm taking a page from my overly optimistic husband's book and saying that they can still do it. One day at a time, people.

I know it will get worse as players get their punishments. But it can't get any worse than these fair weather fans taking the Dad of the '80s approach.

Oh ye of little faith, look at this real-life scenario I'm facing: my girls' team will be in the playoffs on Tuesday, and one of the girls can't play. We will have 5 instead of 6 against the one team we can beat so far. I tried to get a replacement, and one girl strung us along for two weeks and told me that she can't do it when it was too late for me to get someone else. I felt so down. They worked so hard, and last year, my girls became the first (and still only) team in the school's history to ever win a post-season game. I wanted them to do it again.

But I realized that they can still do it. If 4 or 5 of them beat their opponents in each match (difficult, but not impossible), it won't matter if the other team's pin count is higher than ours due to having one more person than we do. They just have to bowl their hearts out. They aren't skilled enough to win a game in the next round, especially if they are short one person. One day, they will, but we're still a young team. I'm looking at it in baby steps. They will be good. Right now, they're okay.

And so my mission these past few days has been to convince the girls of this. Because if I rally behind them and reassure them and pump them up, then they will go in confident and may surpass everyone's expectations.

We've done that to the Saints for years. Why quit now? Stand by your men.

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