My pastor came up to us after worship yesterday. He, being a Chicago Bears fan, told us that (*cue the harps and bright light*) an Angel of the Lord came to him last night in a dream. That angel told him to comfort my family with the knowledge that, while the NFC Championship game pitting Da Bears against the New Orleans Saints (America’s and God’s team) would be disappointing for Saints fans, God wants us to know He has greater plans for the His Team. We shared a good laugh because he didn’t really have an angel appear to him; we were just fans of opposing teams trash talking. But, the more I thought about it, the more I see how he is right.
For the first time in the history of the Saints franchise, I believe they have something they never had before – a future. They’ve had a few winning seasons, a few playoff games, but never before have they had the opportunity they have before them now. Right now, this team has the chance to become a modern-NFL dynasty. And, truthfully, that’s better than a one-time Super Bowl trip for the city of New Orleans. Ask Tampa Bay, Atlanta or Carolina, how they feel about their Super Bowl trips and the next season(s). What have they done since their Super Bowl trips? Nothing.
In today’s NFL, a dynasty cannot be defined as it was in the past – multiple Super Bowls in a row. Gone is the dominance of the Steelers in the 70s, 49ers in the 80s, Cowboys in the 90s. Today, a dynasty is better defined as getting to the Conference Championships consistently, winning most of them to get the the Super Bowl and winning it. For example, the Patriots are a modern-day NFL dynasty. The only dynasty the Saints have had is the Ain’ts Dynasty. But, with their youth, heart and fire, they have the opportunity to become a true dynasty for the first time in history. Isn't that what the Katrina-ravaged city needs more? A dynasty brings more to the New Orleans economy than a one time trip. Plus, being a perennial winner brings more hope than say a perennial loser. I mean, did you feel hopeful last year when the Saints ended their season 3-13? I'm betting nope.
While many saw the Bears dominate the Saints, I saw something different. I saw a team that for the first time in it’s history play to win rather than play to control the margin of loss. I saw a team of youth learn valuable lessons that only come with experience. I saw a coach make decisions to help give his team a chance to win and challenged them to do so. I have never seen a Saints team play with the heart and determination I saw this season. Regardless of what the scoreboard said, the Saints kept fighting. And, that’s what makes this team different than any other team in its franchise history.
So, Saints fans, while your heart aches this morning, take comfort in the future. This team is poised to do wonderous things for the city. They no longer are the Ain’ts. We don’t have to wear paper bags on our heads. We have a truly blessed team. This is only the beginning.