Crisis of faith

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

or, A post in which I contemplate rooting for the Saints in their second season after Katrina while conscientiously avoiding calling myself a “fair-weather fan”

Back to the old grind.

I am finding it difficult to root for any team with that player on it, and I say this after he had three touchdown catches last game (granted, against the unimpressive Texans). The team I really want to support is New Orleans.

For one thing, New Orleans is basically a Cowboy satellite state right now. Head coach Sean Payton, as sports commentators keep mentioning, ran the Dallas offense the last three years.

(Less frequently mentioned: Payton is an Eastern Illinois University alumnus, as is Cowboys backup QB / fan favorite Tony Romo, whom Payton coached the last few years. Of the 32 NFL head coaches, three are EIU alumni: Payton, Mike Shanahan of the Broncos, and Brad Childress of the Vikings. Payton, Romo, and Shanahan were starting QBs for the Division I-AA Panthers.)

Rob Petitti, who started 16 games at RT for Dallas last year, plays for the Saints. Two of their three starting linebackers (Shanle and Fujita) were brought over from Dallas.

The Cowboys have so much LB depth that even running a 3-4 defense, i.e. starting 4 linebackers, they

  • let the Saints take Shanle and Fujita, who both had started last year,
  • cut Rocky Boiman, whom they had given an $1 million signing bonus, and
  • regularly leave 2006 1st round pick Bobby Carpenter off the game-day active roster.

Also, I cannot forget ex-Cowboy and current Saints starting SS Omar Stoutmire, much as I would like to.

What else? I can totally pull for Drew Brees and Deuce McAllister, both of whom are playing really well despite recent potentially career-ending injuries. Reggie Bush and Joe Horn have got to be a lot of fun to watch, and as regards fineable touchdown rituals, cell phones trump Sharpies any day.

Oh, and they can actually finish the job against the Eagles. *muttermuttermutter*

The problem? The Saints are 5-1 right now, and nothing screams “bandwagon” more than deciding to switch loyalties to a team that’s 5-1. (It’d be breaking a Man Law.) I mean, Cowboys fans are notorious for bandwagonism as it is. And I wasn’t exactly out there every game rooting for the post-Katrina Saints, when every NFL fan was required to support them. I can make excuses — I’d be cheering for players I like (the Scotts, particularly), and I can hardly wait for Payton to break out Blue Steel — but 5-1 still nags at my sense of decency.

I do want to make it clear that if I transfer my loyalties to the Saints, that’s it for me as long as the player has a star on his helmet. I don’t mean I wouldn’t be happy if he won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys, but the Saints would be “my” team. Whichever I decide on, I’ll support, even at the detriment of the other.

Which means, of course, that you should be circling 10 December on the calendars, folks, because that’s when this crucible culminates. We’ll see what I’m saying then:

“…I love to watch them lose to the Cowboys…”

or

“Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints!”

In the meantime, the Saints have got a bye this Sunday, which gives me another week to come to some kind of decision. Of course, if it weren’t for that bandwagon thing, my choice would be easy. Still, New Orleans has a tough schedule coming up, so maybe I should be hoping they lose some games so that I can cheer for them with an easy conscience.

(PS: The first football game I ever attended was a preseason game between the Cowboys and the Saints.)

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