I went to Eagles-Saints at the Superdome last night. Here’s what went down:
On the way to the game:
This convenience store has a pretty interesting selection:
My friend Hank was getting very little logistical and organizational help from his friends, but made the tailgate happen anyway. From about 2:00 PM until he finished cooking food around 6:00, he was in “hustle and get shit done” mode. The rain held off for us (as I had said it would all day), and his jambalaya and BBQ pulled pork were worth it:
Our friend Andrew, who goes to Tulane, was at the tailgate. He just turned 21 and said that he got sick pretty early on his birthday. (Shocking, I know.) His fraternity brothers were with him at the tailgate. I told them, “It’s probably because you idiots were force feeding him shots.”
“Yeah, yeah. Typical frat boy stereotype. It’s our fault. All we do is crush shots,” one of them said.
Immediately thereafter, Hank came around with a handle of Jack Daniel’s that only had a few shots left in it. He handed it to one of the frat brothers to pass around the circle until it was finished, but the first guy essentially killed it off.
“His initials are JD and he’s wearing a Jack Daniel’s hat,” the brother who had just chided me for stereotyping rationalized. “He’s kind of obsessed.”
I guess I can see his point. Same initials. And he has the hat. Guess that’s a fair exception and he shouldn’t be stereotyped for it.
At this point, Hank started mobilizing the fraternity brothers – 4/5′s of whom he had just met a half-hour earlier – to pack up the tailgate, hazing them as if they were junior counselors at our summer camp. “I feel like I’m being aggressed at for no real reason,” the JD chugger said.
They were intimidated. I was amused.
Savvy Election Strategy
Group outside Superdome, matching, carrying signs for some local candidate. I’m at least 94% sure they’re chanting, “FUCK YOU GOODELL!!!”
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) November 6, 2012
Enjoyed this shirt from a guy in my section:
We got there right before kickoff. Here was my initial observation:
At Superdome. It’s LOUD. Think this is about to be an eff you game for the Saints.
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) November 6, 2012
For obvious reasons, the Saints have had a rough go at it this year. The Bountygate suspensions were unilaterally handed down by Roger Goodell on the basis of evidence that thus far has not been deemed sufficient in a court of law that uses legitimate due process. The team’s defense had given up 475 yards per game–calling it a sieve would be an insult to a tool that actually stops some materials from passing through.
This weekend, news broke that Sean Payton’s contract was void and that he’s a free agent at the end of the season. Even if he comes back, Saints fans can look forward to months of endless media speculation. The suspended coach will hold the franchise over a barrel with the leverage that almost half the league would love to have him on their sidelines next year. After losing a year’s income, he probably should, but it sucks for New Orleans players and fans. (If he actually leaves, though, Saints fans should despise him.)
When a team is struggling at this point of the season and beyond, there are two directions it can take. Players can roll over and quit, like the Buccaneers did last year, losing their final 10 games with embarrassing effort and no pride. Or, they can dust themselves off, spoil playoff aspirations for other teams, and build momentum headed into the following season. Miami took that route last year, finishing 6-3 after an 0-7 start.
For at at least last night, Saints fans tried to push the team toward the latter route. As I tweeted, people were LOUD, and not just because it was inside a dome. From before kickoff until the final whistle, fans yelled loudly on every defensive play and screamed at the top of their LUNGS on third down. The average adult attendee must have had at least 10 drinks throughout the night. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen NFL fans this passionate, and I’ve been to a Super Bowl and a Lambeau playoff game.
“This is nothing. In that game against the Falcons after Katrina, I thought I was gonna go deaf,” Hank told me. I can’t even fathom what that must have been like.
Saints players matched the fans’ energy. On offense, backs and receivers churned and clawed for extra yards. The New Orleans defense hit Philadelphia hard and ganged up on tackles. There were a few times that LeSean McCoy had holes that trucks could have driven through and Desean Jackson went untouched on a 77-yard touchdown reception but these blown assignments were not a result of lackluster effort.
Philly didn’t necessarily quit on Andy Reid last night, but they got hit in the MOUTH by a team that wanted it way more. Michael Vick was sacked seven times. The Saints D forced two turnovers, including a 99-yard Patrick Robinson pick-six. Bountygate protagonists Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith wreaked havoc all night.
After last night, I wouldn’t want to play the Saints this season. Especially not in New Orleans. Right now, it looks like the Saints might have an opportunity to play spoiler when the Buccaneers come to town in Week 15. Tampa’s won three of their last four and looks feisty enough to contend for a Wild Card.