A Saints fan says goodbye

Devon Greene, Sports editor

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I was born in El Paso, Texas so naturally; I grew up a Chicago Bears fan. My family pressured me into the whole situation and I, like every other 0-10-year-old, lacked originality so I just rode with it.

When I was around 12 years old, my family and I moved to Oklahoma. I left home for the first time in my life and gained some friends and a really basic sense of originality. The year was 2009. The New Orleans Saints were tearing up the NFL and cruised to a 13-0 record. The team was so much fun, and they had the coolest demeanor to them. I figured if I was going to sprint away from the Bears, I should go to a successful team and jump on a bandwagon that I could thoroughly enjoy.

It proved to be the best decision I have ever made, because ever since, the Bears have been the most terrible football team I have ever seen. I remember being a fan during the Rex Grossman and Brian Griese days and being more embarrassed than I have ever been in my whole life to stand by a team. The year I jumped on the Saints bandwagon, they won the Super Bowl. My family and I went out to this Mexican restaurant and watched the game on the little TV’s they had in there. I will never forget the onside kick after halftime, or the Tracy Porter 72-yard pick-6 on Peyton Manning that sealed our victory.

I’ve stuck with them through the Bounty-gate scandal, the middle school caliber defense years, and all the other piles of terribleness that has followed since. I expected the same to happen in the 2017-2018 season because there was nothing that told me they were going to be any better. However, the Saints had one of the best draft classes of 2017 and snagged a plethora of influential rookies.

But even as I saw the Saints kicking the NFL in the face, I still couldn’t grasp the dreams of going to another Super Bowl. It was like I was sent to the Twilight Zone because it was such a different team than I was used to. We were a run-first offense and had a good defense. Usually, Drew Brees had to pass for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns per game, and even then we would still lose by 75 points because our defense looked like they had baby deer legs and were playing on ice.

Near the end of the season is when I started to buy in, they beat the Atlanta Falcons in a revenge game after the loss in week 13. Then they beat the Carolina Panthers in week one of the playoffs. It was such a great surprise and I was so joyful that I actually had a good team again.

Have you ever seen a movie that you had such a good time watching that you were transported up into the clouds and the happiest song of all time, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston was blaring in the background, but then there’s a twist and the writers decided to snatch your soul, along all your happy feelings and set them on fire? Then, when there was nothing left but ash, they swept it up into a blender and they blended your ashes up with some acid and poison to the soundtrack of “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, which is easily the most depressing song of all time, just to make you feel worse? For me, that movie was “Marley and Me.”

I had so much fun watching that movie because I love dogs and it was such a feel-good movie. Then, the writers showed their true colors and revealed that they hate my happiness and me and killed off Marley. It’s a foregone conclusion that animal deaths are far worse in movies than a human death.

This Saints’ season felt so much like “Marley and Me.” I had an extremely fun time watching my puppies grow up into solid NFL players and grow back into contenders in the increasingly difficult NFC. My puppies were being trained and growing up better behaved, and the children were growing up and loving the new dog. Then the Minnesota Vikings came around. The Vikings used to have a nickname, “Purple People Eaters”, well, for my purposes we’re going to call them the Purple Puppy Eaters.

The divisional round of the NFC playoffs started off in the worst possible way for New Orleans. They couldn’t get any offense going and the new best quarterback of all-time, Case Keenum, led his offense to a 17-0 lead at halftime. This was the slow death of Marley. Marley was starting to show his arthritis, began to go deaf, and an attack of gastric dilatation volvulus almost killed us. But then something miraculous happened. We began to recover.

Brees showed why he is an all-time great quarterback and led the offense to a miraculous comeback. He found the sophomore receiver Michael Thomas for a 13-yard touchdown that put the Saints on the board for the first time. Then, he found Thomas again in the fourth quarter after an interception by Marcus Williams, who looked like he was on his way to becoming a Saints legend. The score was 17-14 and the Saints were back in the game and alive, just like my good boy Marley.

The Purple Puppy Eaters then got on the board for the first time in the second half with a Kai Forbath field goal that pushed the lead to 20-14. Forbath wasn’t putting down Marley that easy though. Brees led the Saints’ offense and found the breakout rookie Alvin Kamara on an insane 14-yard touchdown pass that gave the Saints their first lead of the game. Yet Keenum wouldn’t let Marley survive. He led the offense into field goal range and Forbath hit another field goal to take back a 23-21 lead. With 1:29 left in the game, Brees showed off the clutch factor and led the Saints in field goal position. Kicker Will Lutz strutted on the field with a swagger that I’ve never seen before and nailed a 43-yard field goal like he was kicking in practice to give the Saints a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds left.

This was the point in the movie where I thought that Marley was going to make it. Marley recovered from his battle with gastric dilatation volvulus and maybe we were actually going to get a happy ending. Then the Vikings ripped my heart out of my chest.

After three plays that only left Minnesota on their own 39-yard line, there were 10 seconds left. New Orleans was having their Mardi Gras celebration and planning for the NFC championship. But on 3rd and 10, Keenum found Stefon Diggs on the sideline with two Saints defenders in the vicinity.

This was the moment that took rookie Marcus Williams from legend, to most hated man in New Orleans. Williams whiffed on a tackle that allowed Diggs to take the ball 61-yards and win the game with a walk-off touchdown. Diggs euthanized Marley.

It was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life. Now all I see are memes on Twitter and people sending me Snapchats mocking my trauma. The world grew cold for a night and all I could do was wallow in my self-pity and sadness while sitting in the dark in my Brees jersey. Once I finally mustered the strength to get out of bed, I went and found a shovel and buried the jersey in my backyard.

This is my goodbye to Marley and to the 2017-2018 New Orleans Saints. You were so much fun and I had a great season. I know Marley can never come back, but my Saints can. The puppies will grow to be the new Marley and we will return.

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