Thursday, February 11, 2010

The New Orleans Saints season was "magical"

The following comes from

On the morning after, having saluted the winning coach Sean Payton and MVP of Super Bowl XLIV Drew Brees, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell still was shaking his head after leaving the media center.

"You think of the story and all you do is keep coming back to the word 'magical,' " he said Monday.

All week long, it was a story told -- over and over -- how this championship was more than just a football game, how the
New Orleans Saints were more than just a football team, how the success of the Saints demonstrated the "value of sports," not only to a city, but to a region.

The "magic" was the most widely watched Super Bowl, attracting in the range of 106.5 million viewers.

As the party continued -- non-stop -- in the Crescent City, Drew Brees was on his way to New York for a Monday night appearance on the "Late Show with Dave Letterman."

Sean Payton, who spent Sunday night sleeping with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after New Orleans defeated the Colts 31-17, was preparing to join his players for a parade in New Orleans today.

And that was only the beginning.

On Saturday, Tom Benson will be the Grand Marshal of Endymion.

On Sunday, Brees will reign as Bacchus.

On Monday -- Mardi Gras Eve -- Payton will go from head coach to Orpheus.

Next Tuesday, for the first time, the city will be celebrating Mardi Gras II, March Gras I having begun sometime in September, when the Who Dat Nation began serious marching to Roman Numerals XLIV.

Let me be honest.

I still have a hard time believing what I'm experiencing.

On Sunday, I arrive in the press box at Sun Life Stadium, I look down at the end zone painted black and gold, I see the letters S-A-I-N-T-S, and I'm asking myself, "is this for real?"

Then you watch a football game, having witnessed some hard-to-believe magic two weeks earlier, and, sure enough, there was more.

First you see some Peyton Manning magic, an 10-0 deficit for the Saints, and then you see some Who Dat magic: an unbelievable gamble at the start of the second half ("I wasn't worried, I was terrified," said Tom Morstead about executing a knuckleball onside kick).

There was more magic, of course.

Brees completed his last 10 passes, something exceeded in a Super Bowl only by Joe Montana. He also completed passes to seven receivers on a single drive, something no quarterback has done -- and he did it on the winning drive. Tracy Porter's game-clinching interception of a Manning pass was magic at its finest.

Think about it.

This season, Payton's Who Dats beat five teams with quarterbacks who won Super Bowls -- the Giants, Patriots, Cardinals, Vikings and Colts.

Now the Who Dats have one.

You look at Brees, and you realize, among the impressive attributes he has, one is the manner in which handles celebrity.

He mixes a warrior mentality with a genuine modesty that sets him apart from many in the business operating at the elite level.

During the week, he told the story of a phone call he once received from Manning when the Colts' quarterback was in the early stages of his NFL career -- and Brees had won a big game at Purdue.

"Peyton had already done some great things as a professional," Brees said. "He had established himself. I felt honored by the call from someone like him."

Brees meant what he was saying. From his high school days, a 6-foot quarterback had been one of the game's classic overachievers, clearing one hurdle after another, a journey that included major surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Once more Sunday, he proved to the world, at age 31, he has the credentials of a legend whose impact now carries far beyond someone who throws touchdown passes.
Drew Brees believes in destiny.

He has made all Who Dats believe in magic.

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