It's Just Football

That's what I keep telling myself.

But it doesn't feel that way.

It feels like I've been punched cruelly and powerfully in the stomach. Where just months ago, was excitement and sheer joy, today is despair and disgust. What went wrong? Where did it go?

For those of you not currently going through this emotional hell, maybe you have no idea that I'm talking about the New Orleans Saints and their 0-3 start. What makes it really unbearable, so completely different than years passed when the fans wore bags on their heads and called their team the "Ain'ts", is that there is no one thing we can point to as an explanation. Sure, the secondary is weak, but that's not why we can't run the football. Sure, we're having trouble running, but that's not why Drew Brees (the should-have-been-MVP last year) can't seem to find any receivers except the opponents defensive backs. Sure, Drew Brees is struggling but that's not why we can't stop the run. Do you see the complete failure here?

The national media (who were quick to pick us for the Super Bowl in the pre-season) is running with the angle that LAST YEAR was the anomaly. Really, we still are that team that has only had eight winning seasons in our forty year history. They've already printed the "Ain'ts" signs and started handing out the paper bags. I don't think I'm ready to give into that attitude yet, but it doesn't feel good.

I might be new to New Orleans, but I've been a Saints fan my whole life. I've lamented the fact that other cities, states and regions get to celebrate championships and we celebrated a single (and then a duplicate) playoff win. Two years ago, this city was hit by the worst natural disaster (that phrase always makes me laugh, there was nothing natural about it) in American history. The next year the city (and region) tied its recovery to a football team. Every Sunday we set aside the construction efforts and smiled as a bunch of muscle bound men wearing the symbol of our city surprised the world and represented us well. We loved the Saints before Katrina. We danced in the streets over their wins and cried in our beer over their losses. After Katrina, we ARE the Saints. That's what makes this 0-3 so tough to take. If this team, so talented, so confident, so universally projected as winners can't get up off the mat, maybe we can't either.

But then again, it's just football. Right?