For once, let’s believe in the Saints
Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2000
I’m sorry. As a sports writer and as a fan, I hereby apologize to Mr. Jim Haslett and the entire New Orleans Saints organization.
I think that’s what Haslett wants to hear. He has started every press conference by reminding the media of our predictions at the beginning of the season.
He tells us that we said they’d be lucky to win six games and an 8-8 season was the absolute best the Saints could hope for. He then pauses and leans back, as if to say, &uot;Well look at us now!&uot;
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Don’t get me wrong – I’m as happy as a pig in slop that the Saints took the division title and made this probably the most exciting season a Saints fan has ever experienced.
But when Haslett brow-beats the media for not having faith, I have to retort.
Looking at the history of this organization, why on earth would anyone have predicted the Saints to sweep the NFC West this year?
They finished 3-13 last year, which led to the firing of everyone from the general manager to water boy. In came an untested coach with a host of new nobodys and has-beens to wear the fleur-de-lis to finish out their unremarkable careers.
The Ricky Williams fiasco at the time looked to be the worst trade in the history of sports, as Ricky had yet to producing anything close to what people expected of him, and the Saints were without any noticeable rookies.
Moreover, look at the NFC West. We had the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams; the Carolina Panthers, who missed the playoffs only by a few points in the fourth tie-breaker with Green Bay, and sent their starting quarterback to the Pro Bowl; the Atlanta Falcons, just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance themselves; and the always-dangerous San Francisco 49ers.
Well, obviously things have worked out. Haslett turned out to be a phenomenal coach, a lot of those nobodies ended up breaking Saints records and even our few draft picks had outstanding seasons. I’m glad it happened, but the odds were certainly against it.
So as a journalist, I don’t feel bad at all about predicting a 6-10 season. But something Haslett said at last week’s post-game press conference after the Falcons game made me feel like a lousy fan.
A reporter asked Haslett if he knew this team had what it took to take the division when he started the season. Haslett said that if a coach doesn’t start every season with the sincere belief that he can win all 16 games, he is doing his team a disservice.
He is obviously right from a coaching standpoint. Why would anyone want a coach who is planning on losing from the get-go?
But he’s right from a fan’s point of view, as well. If we honestly don’t think our guys are going to win a game, why are wasting our time watching it?
I’ll admit that I didn’t expect much out of the Saints this year, but if I didn’t think they had a chance, I wouldn’t have watched them at all. There have definitely been years that the Bucs or Steelers started looking like a pretty nifty choice after the Saints tanked game after game, but I never switched loyalties.
If we’re going to follow this team, we might as well believe in it, especially this year. This team has produced miracle after miracle so far.
So, as a journalist, I hearby predict a Saints’ Super Bowl. If they make it, you heard it here first. If they don’t make it, I’m a lousy prognosticator, but a good fan.
I can live with that.
Nick Adams is sports editor of the Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 445-3632 or by e-mail at email@example.com.