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The New Orleans Saints - The New "America's Team"
Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
The Saints Will Be the Underdog in Super Bowl XLIV
Ever since the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become America's city. You just cannot help but think of the images of some 30,000 people who were stuck inside as the winds and rains battered the Superdome.
Since 2005, the New Orleans Saints could be given the title "America's team". I know other teams in the NFL have been given this "unofficial" title. Fans of the Saints and the NFL cannot help but root for an underdog and New Orleans is that city. It is a city that has seen the worst devastation known to man from Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is a city on the mend. A major part of the mending process was the Saints coming back to the most loyal fans in the NFL. It was an awesome site that took place on Monday, September 25, 2006, when a renovated Superdome opened with the Saints first home game since Hurricane Katrina. Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-3. Owner Tom Benson had been thinking of moving the team after the 2005 NFL Season if the Superdome was not remodeled but decided against that. It was a good thing he kept the team where it rightfully belongs.
The New Orleans Saints were the first professional sports franchise for the city of New Orleans since their expansion into the National Football League in 1967. The Saints played their first several seasons at Tulane Stadium until the Superdome was completed. The Superdome opened for business in 1975 and hosted its first Super Bowl in 1978 when it played host to Super Bowl XII.
Through the forty-three years of existence, the Saints have produced seven playoff appearance four of which took place between 1987 through 1992. Jim Mora Sr. was the Head Coach of the Saints during that time. The General Manager of the team was Jim Finks who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the team executive wing.
Current Head Coach Sean Payton has taken the Saints to two NFC Championship appearance in 2006 and 2009 during his tenure. There have been many famous names to coach the Saints during their existence including Tom Fears, Hank Stram, Mike Ditka, and Bum Phillips. Jim Haslett was the Head Coach of the Saints in 2000 when they produced the franchises first ever playoff victory over the Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams.
Some of the great Saints players include the likes of QB Archie Manning (Peyton and Eli's Dad), Danny Abrahamowicz, Tom Dempsey (who still shares the record for the longest field goal in NFL history at 63 yards), Doug Atkins, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Deuce McAllister, Sam Mills, Willie Roaf, Morten Andersen, Dalton Hilliard, Bobby Hebert, Joe Horn, Earl Campbell, and Joel Hilgenberg.
The stars of current Saints roster include Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sharper, Will Smith (the football player not the actor), and Sedrick Ellis.
The Saints made franchise history this past Sunday, January 24th, when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 31 to 28 in overtime to reach Super Bowl XLIV. Kicker Garrett Hartley booted a 40 yard field goal to send the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl. The Saints were the favorite in the game but it would be a battle with Brett Favre, Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings. The game went back and forth. But, it was the Saints who prevailed.
Next up for the Saints, are the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are led by Peyton Manning who just won his fourth MVP award. Peyton Manning grew up in New Orleans while his father, Archie played for the Saints. I am sure it will be a hard for Archie Manning to choose sides but I think he will be rooting for his son. After all, you want the best for your kids.
New Orleans is a great city. We experienced the worst and now the best in the last four years. I hope no matter what takes place in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami that everyone is proud of the accomplishments of the Saints. The Saints are not just playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy but all those who like underdogs and great comeback stories. We will find out on Sunday, February 7, 2010 at Land Shark Stadium in Miami, Florida.
2/7/10 Update - The New Orleans Saints have surprised many football fans by defeating the Indianapolis Colts by the score of 31-17. Drew Brees led the way with a 32 completion out of 39 for 288 yards. Brees was named Super Bowl XLIV MVP. The turning point of the game was the surprise onside kick to begin the 2nd half which the Saints recovered and took the lead on a Brees to Pierre Thomas TD pass. The winning TD came with 5:42 when Brees hit Jeremy Shockey from 2 yards out. The Saints sealed their first ever Super Bowl victory when Tracy Porter returned a 74 yard interception from Colts QB Peyton Manning. The City of New Orleans and American are celebrating in the Saints victory.