There are a lot of terms that we throw around in sports that have little to do with the game itself; things like ‘division game’, ‘momentum’, ‘having a team’s number’. Things like that. Like any other kind of ‘myth’, sports myths are our way of explaining the things we don’t understand. A team that develops a so called hot streak and roars its way through the post season to win like the 2010 Packers is given credit for having momentum. A team like the Saints of recent years ‘has the number’ of its division rival Atlanta even though Atlanta always seems to make the games tougher than they should be…but of course they are ‘division games’. By this point you are probably wondering what my point is, so I will get to the point. Sports has just as many myths and played out platitudes as any other part of culture, and this Saints team seems poised to fall into my personal favorite. If I had one term to describe the way this team is coming across… it’s hungry.
Last year the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl in large part because they got close the year before and that loss gave them the edge that they previously lacked. Ironically enough they may have unwittingly created the deliverer of their own destruction. I’m not going to make any over the top claims or guarantees here, I am just going to point out what I’m sure most of us have already noticed (so typical ‘journalist’ type stuff). If you watched the post match celebration of the Seahawks in last year’s playoff game you probably saw Richard Sherman running his mouth… but if you looked closely you saw something else. You saw the eyes of a caged animal in Drew Brees. We all know how competitive he is, but you could see the same look in his eyes during OTAs this year, and in Cam Jordan, and Junior Gallete, and every other player on the team. They know how close they were. They know what it took to get where they were, but most importantly every person on that team knows that they didn’t play their best game and that is a taste nobody wants left in.
The Saints spent the offseason adding weapons. They weren’t retooling folks… they were just escalating. 4th best defense one year after breaking a record NOBODY wanted? Nope not good enough, the Saints bring in a stud safety and a Hall of Fame corner to go along with the weapons they already have. Still not enough? Add in weapon X… Brandin Cooks gets drafted in the first round to give the offense the thing it was supposed to have in 2006 when they drafted Reggie Bush. They got an explosive playmaker who forces a defense to respect him; and when you combine that kind of potential impact with the young weapons already there and developing….fear is a good word to describe other team’s emotions right now. Mentality certainly isn’t everything as teams like the Falcons call themselves hungry every year, however this just feels different. It’s easy to look up the stats and to quote the numbers at each other in an endless display of who loves google more. What I think is often times forgotten in sports is the real meaning of team. A group of individuals with a common goal and more importantly a sense of unity born from shared struggles can rise above their own limitations and do the impossible. That is what truly draws us as fans to sports beyond just the eye popping athleticism.
The Saints have all the ‘momentum’ of a team just coming into its own; which is hard to realize considering Drew’s age, but if you look at this roster its built to last into the future. Some people might say the Seahawks have our number… to them I say boo. They won the beast quake game because the Saints were , at that time, the bleeding remnant of their former selves with a devastated roster. They won last year as the best team in football, but New Orleans quietly gave them their best run for their money in most of that game. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m not even saying it’s certain. What I AM saying is that this team is as hungry for success as any team I have ever seen and they have been forged in the fires of struggle and loss…. this team wants it bad and the chip on their shoulders right now would make Atlas flinch. I can’t wait to see the carnage (talking about on the scoreboard here folks).