Enjoy a New Orleans Saints game in a luxury suite
New Orleans was, once, a tale of two cities. There was the sheer joy and exhilaration of Mardi Gras, the biggest party in America, and then there was the misery and depression of Saints football. The team managed a .500 record only twice in their first 20 years in the league. Fans were so embarrassed of their team that they would wear paper bags over their heads to hide their identities. The team name was even parodied throughout the league as “the Ain’ts”.
It seemed that nothing the Saints did brought any success to the bayou. Archie Manning spent the better part of his career running for his life, scrambling in vain to find any open receiver downfield before the defense brought a punishing hit. Iron Mike Ditka arrived in the French Quarter determined to turn this franchise around with his no-nonsense brand of tough love coaching which had previously earned him a Super Bowl victory in Chicago. Unfortunately, lightning did not strike twice for Ditka, and his tenure in New Orleans is best remembered for a losing record and the Saints giving up their entire draft to acquire running back Ricky Williams, who never panned out for the black and gold.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 brought unprecedented devastation to the Gulf region. New Orleans was underwater. The Superdome (now the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) was damaged in the storm and served as a refuge for upwards of 30,000 displaced citizens. The Saints were forced to hold their home games at alternate locations. The city was in complete disarray in the wake of this historic storm.
New Orleans needed something to lift them up; a common element to unite the people and bring them out of the darkness. Newly hired Head Coach Sean Payton and his new franchise quarterback Drew Brees decided that the New Orleans Saints would be that beacon of hope.
Under the bright lights of a renovated Superdome, the Saints opened the 2006 season against their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons, on Monday Night Football. In their first game at home since before the storm, fans packed the building, cheering not only for their team, but for the resiliency of their city, which refused to concede to the hurricane. America cheered on the Saints as they defeated the Falcons 23-3, with Steve Gleason’s blocked punt becoming a signature image in team history. This emotional victory marked a metaphorical turning point for both the team and the city whereby they would begin a new chapter and look forward to a brighter future.
New Orleans continued to heal and rebuild as the Saints transformed on the field to become one of the elite teams in the NFL, reaching the NFC Championship game for the first time in their franchise history. Their continued hard work and perseverance would culminate in 2009 with a Super Bowl victory, as the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to capture their first Lombardi Trophy. Payton and Brees were elevated to hero status. For more information about the history of the New Orleans Saints click here.
Football is a cyclical game, and the Saints are in the midst of a downswing following their recent successes. Despite a level of play that keeps him in elite status, Saints fans know that the end is coming for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. This inevitability, coupled with some bad defensive showings in the last two seasons, have New Orleans looking to be moving towards a major transition. It may not be long before we see a new coach and QB combo in the Big Easy. However, as long as Brees takes the field in Saints colors, he is resound in his efforts to recapture that former glory with a Super Bowl victory. Key pieces throughout the roster will need to be upgraded to reach that next level. Sean Payton is hard at work on the X’s and O’s and will, undoubtedly, have a few tricks up his sleeve.