Five and a half years ago, I went to the Seahawks-Saints regular season opener in New Orleans. The Hawks won, and I had a blast, but I wasn't impressed with the Saints or their fans.
The stadium was perhaps 2/3rds full, and the crowd barely seemed to notice the game going on down below between taking swigs of beer... The team was talented but undisciplined, and there was nothing to indicate they'd contend anytime soon.
A year later, Katrina.
Not only did it look even more hopeless for the Saints on the field... It also looked like they'd flee New Orleans at the first opportunity. In NFL history, there has probably never been a more hopeless moment for an entire fanbase.
Five years later, they are World Champions. Forty years of (mostly) futility have been erased, and they will raise that Lombardi Trophy skyward on a loop until the end of time. Drew Brees, Sean Payton and Darren Sharper will be talking heads on America's Game, and the 2010 season will kickoff in the raucous din of the Superdome.
If the Saints can be Champions, ANY TEAM can be Champions. If we've entered a brave new world of head coaches taking bold risks, I'm glad we have a coach whose nickname is "Big Balls Pete." If the Saints can beat three hall-of-fame-bound QBs to win a world title, the Seahawks can claw out of this valley of suck.
Enjoy this offseason, Twelves. It is the beginning. Someday, we'll say we were there when the first parts of a World Championship team were constructed.
Congrats, Saints. As of now, we're on your six. :)