The city of New Orleans is still trying to recover from the devastation left by the storm. It is happening slowly but surely. However, if there has been one bright spot since Katrina, it’s the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints were affected just as the rest of The Big Easy. They had to vacate the city and the Louisiana Superdome. Although there was quite a bit of damage to the Superdome, it was able to be used as a refuge to some residents.
A year later, in 2006, the Saints returned to the Superdome. The crowd was as electric as any other. With the Saints feeding off the home crowd – and emotions running high – they cruised to a 23-3 victory over the division rival Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.
The feel good story would not stop there.
In the 2009-10 season, the Saints were marching through it’s opponents. They had won their first 13 games. Just as they did in the regular season, the Saints backed it up in the postseason.
After surviving the gunslinging antics of Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, the Saints would approach another challenge, that being hometown QB Peyton Manning.
The Colts were streaking through the NFL season as the Saints were. But the Saints just wanted it more.
After what seemed to be another game-winning drive led by Manning, cornerback Tracy Porter jumped the route and picked off the four-time MVP, thus, sealing the victory in what will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.
For that moment, it could be said that the Saints were America’s team.
It was as if a Super Bowl trophy brought complete closure to New Orleans. ‘Who Dat’ Nation had returned.
Little did people know, the Saints weren’t completely helpless.
News reports surfaced that the Saints had been involved with bounties dating back to their Super Bowl run.
Players were being paid extra for knocking out a designated opposing player during the game. Players targeted include Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Cam Newton.
Because of such conduct, the Saints were punished accordingly.
Four players were suspended: linebacker Jonathan Vilma, head coach Sean Payton, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was handed the harshest penalty. Payton and Vilma are gone for the year, while Williams is gone indefinitely.
The Saints have now gone from being the team mostly everyone felt jubilant for, to now being at the root of jokes regarding Bountygate. The sympathy, for the most part, is gone.
Could it be that the legacy of Katrina left the team believing they were to receive the benefit of the doubt?
They went from experiencing pain to causing it….intentionally.
Seven years later, instead of reminiscing about the Saints storybook ending, we’re left with a lasting impression of the Saints being considered dirty and scandalous.
What a difference each year makes.
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