I have to tell you, I’m glad last week is over. I did not enjoy myself.
After dealing with an influx of crazy Jet fans who showed up just to make work for me (what? You don’t rank teams by yards? Why not?), it’s nice that I haven’t been swarmed under by a load of Cajuns. It’s not that I don’t want the traffic, I just hate the weird trash talking.
In fact, I doubt there will be very much of that at all between these two franchises. There’s too much in common and too many deep ties.
To begin with, both teams are dome teams known for their offense. So right off the bat, we can dispense with the stupid “my style is better than your style” crap. The Colts and Saints are similar, but no one is going to do any mud slinging about how the other team’s QB piles up stats. Both cities are relatively small markets, that takes away the whole “you live in a corn field…yeah, well you live in a swamp” argument.
Most importantly, however, there are just too many deep ties between the players and the opposing cities.
The Saints QB is Drew Brees, who is something of an Indiana legend. He’s the only player who ever made me root for Purdue. Purdue fans revere Brees. They also have a weird habit of rooting for ex-Purdue guys over the Colts. It’s just anecdotal, but Polian said on Sunday that:
This person said to me, “Well, there’s a great affinity for the Dolphins going all that way back to Bob Griese (an Evansville native and Purdue All-American who led Miami to the 1972 and 1973 Super Bowl titles).
Demond swears he heard a West Lafayette guy saying that Purdue fans were torn on Sunday because of Keller (Jets TE who played at Purdue). Our uncle passionately cheers for Curtis Painter to enter EVERY GAME. Seriously, Purdue fans are weirdly loyal to ex-players. The Brees thing goes deeper than just that for me, however.
First, Brees was the anti-Vick. The Chargers took him with the first pick of the second round the year they traded the rights to Vick. I always loved that move. Now, Brees has become a referendum on Chargers GM A.J. Smith. First, Smith wanted a new QB when Brees was with the team, basically because he didn’t draft him. So he tried to use the first pick on Eli Manning. Papa Manning rightly figured that the Chargers already had a top flight QB they weren’t developing, so he told the team to screw off. Then Smith took Manning anyway, eventually trading him to the Giants for the rights to Phil Rivers. Rivers held out, and Brees took the starting job away from him his rookie year and proceeded to become the elite QB he was always on his way to being. Smith then let Brees go (he did have a gimpy shoulder which was obviously not serious in retrospect). Now, Eli has already won a Super Bowl with the Giants, and Brees has taken the Saints to their first championship game, becoming the symbol of the city in the process. Meanwhile in San Diego…cue the Phil Rivers face. I always root for Brees as a way of expressing my disdain for Smith.
There are other Saints with Hoosier ties as well. Courtney Roby is an Indy native and ex-Hoosier who played one game for the Colts before getting cut (d’oh! we’d love to have him back). Tracey Porter is a Hoosier as well. There aren’t that many Hoosiers in the NFL (what 9 or 10 total?), so for one team to have two is pretty sweet.
I think the love cuts both ways. Louisiana has always been strongly behind the Colts since the arrival of Manning. There’s no need to retrace the importance of New Orleans to Peyton or the stature of his family there. It’s not just Peyton, though. Reggie Wayne is from New Orleans as well. Joe Addai went to LSU. Heck, even Matt Stover went to Louisiana Tech. The point is that some of the biggest names on the Colts have ties to New Orleans. You get the feeling like fans of these two franchises have almost adopted the other team as their “other conference” team. Because they rarely play, there is no natural animosity. Each franchise affords fans of the other the chance to keep rooting for hometown guys guilt free.
So that being said, I say, “Welcome, People of New Orleans! I like your team. I’ve pulled for you all along. I have deep respect for your coach and QB. I think you are a deserving foe, and take no offense when I say that I hope we blow you guys out of the building on Sunday.”
Anything is better than another week of Jets fans.