Sorry Dallas. But there's a new sheriff in town. And that is the New Orleans Saints.
In all my years as a sports fan, short as that may be compared to most, I have never seen one Super Bowl team with more support nationwide than the Saints. Regardless of which team you bet on and what numbers you have in your Super Bowl pools, admit it. You want the Saints to win. You want the city of New Orleans to win.
Not even the New York Giants two years ago, attempting to stop the Patriots 19-0 season, had this much support. In that game, you either wanted history, the Pats, or you wanted to see Darth Hoodie and the Golden Boy go down in flames and rooted for the G-Men.
Aside from the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, everyone is rooting for the Saints. I've never seen this before. It's surreal. Even rival fans of the Saints in Atlanta and Tampa have to at least be thinking to themselves...we can't root against these guys. Not today. Not in the Super Bowl.
The New Orleans Saints have never been to a Super Bowl before. The city has never won a major sports title in professional sports. After Hurricane Katrina, pro sports almost died in the city. Somehow, in the aftermath of the greatest disaster in New Orleans history, the Aints died. And in their place arose a team with a heart greater than any team before it. A heart that beats with people of one unique city, in a bond that can never be broken.
The Colts are favored in this game. They have Peyton Manning. The only native New Orleans residents rooting for the Colts are the Mannings themselves, perfectly understandable. But deep down, the Mannings know this is a win-win situation. Either their family or their city will have a Super Bowl victory. We know which they are rooting for the most, but still, they know better than most what this city has been through.
And yes, this is America's team now. Dallas might have a national fan base, but it has twice as many rooting against them every week. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone to root against these Saints. Drew Brees is too short. Reggie Bush can't run off tackle. The defense can't stop anyone. But that doesn't matter anymore. The Saints are here in the promise land of Super Bowl XLIV.
And win or lose, the city of New Orleans is throwing a parade for its football team. That's fitting in more ways than one. The Saints deserve it. And does the city of New Orleans really need a reason to have a good time? I think not.
But they're going to have one I think. The Saints defense will find ways to create turnovers against the invincible Peyton Manning and the Colts offense. I don't think this game will be a shootout into the forties, perhaps the thirties for the winning team. But in the end, I hope that Drew Brees and Sean Peyton hold the Lombari Trophy high.
There's a party on Bourbon Street tonight. The Saints are in the Super Bowl.