That Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints matchup on January 20th of this year was as good of a game as many football fans expected to see. I had predicted it would come down to who had the ball last (which it ultimately did). The Saints, with the ball in the final 2 minutes of regulation put Rookie Wide Receiver Tre’Quan Smith lined up in the slot and hit a wheel route on the right side of the field. The route had beaten Rams CB Robey-Coleman who was late to his assignment on the play. In an attempt to save a touchdown, he threw his body and helmet into the crown of Tre’Quan Smith and made an obvious pass interference. No flag was thrown by the officials. If a flag was called, the Saints would’ve got an automatic First & Goal with 1:32 left on the clock. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees takes 2 kneels and Saints kicker, Will Lutz, kicks light 26-ish yard field goal to win the game as time expires. I would have much rather seen a Saints and Patriots Super Bowl which will most likely never happen. All this of course due to the most arguably infamous non-call in NFL history. For most fanbases, the trauma and heartbreak caused by a non-call of that stature eventually fade after 2-3 consecutive seasons. As it will for Saints fans too… But here are 3 reasons why the #WhoDatNation is really hurting.
- The 1-2 Punch
In the final play of the NFC divisional round last season, Kase Keenum completed a last-second pass to Stefon Diggs on the right side of the field. Saints Rookie Safety, Marcus Williams missed a season-ending tackle while Diggs went into the endzone untouched as time expired. Now known as the incredible “Minneapolis Miracle,” it completely discredited the Saints success of that season. Only to come back to the following season even better and motivated. Setting team records that haven’t been broken since the year of the 09’ Superbowl. Saints fans, including myself, were expecting a Superbowl all season long. This was the second dramatic exit for the Saints during a high-performing year. Two unimaginable plays, two years in a row, that Saints fan will never forget.
- Roger Goodell… again!?
Two seasons after the 2009’ Super Bowl-winning season for the New Orleans Saints, the infamous Bountygate Scandal came to life. While the scandal shed a negative light on the Super Bowl win, the consequences the Saints faced from the scandal were some of the harshest punishments made by any commissioner in the century the NFL has existed. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012-13 NFL season. General manager, Mickey Loomis, suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. Assistant head coach, Joe Vitt, suspended for the first six games of the 2012 season and the Saints organization was penalized with a $500,000 fine and forced to forfeit their second-round draft selections in 2012 and 2013. Many “ringleaders” in the Saints defensive personnel were also suspended and fined. It’s no surprise the Saints finished off the 2012 season with a sub-par 7-9 record. The Saints defense turned historically bad as it took the Saints defense about three years to fully recover back to the top 10 defense which has been showcased in the past two seasons.
After the season-ending non-call in the NFC title game, nothing infuriated Saints fans more than Goodell’s silence. Three days went by, no response. About a week more goes by and a report comes out saying 4 of the referees that game had ties/had lived in Los Angeles at some point. Unbiasedly, the referee’s ties with LA probably had nothing to do with the negligence of the non-call, but Goodells’ continued silence makes those headlines look really sketchy. About 4 days prior to the Superbowl, a cornered Roger Goodell was forced to answer questions to the media. Standing at the podium, stumbling over words and lies, Goodell claimed he talked to Saints HC Sean Payton, the players and the front office of the Saints organization. Saints players quickly took to Twitter to expose the lie. He eventually expressed condolences to the Saints organization and fans, while admitting there should have been a penalty called.
He then followed it with the excuse that all refs and players are human and they make mistakes. They are also trained professionals that have decades of experience under their belt to be able to call such an obvious call. Goodell also had the authority to replay the game, replay the game from when the penalty incurred or even reverse the outcome of the game. Realistically, none of those would happen to save the reputation of the NFL and the officiating crew. For Saints fan, Roger Goodell has just been an irresponsible and harsh commissioner. For the lack of situation he deals with, you wouldn’t think he’d be getting paid almost double the salary of the highest paid QB in the NFL.
- Drew Brees’ Legacy
2014-2016 The New Orleans Saints ground through three consecutive 7-9 seasons. During the 3 year stretch of mediocracy, the Saints defense was historically bad. The defensive unit ranked 28th, 32nd and 31st overall in those three years. (Thanks, Roger!) Drew Brees, heading towards the twilight of his hall of fame career. Defying old age; 40, Drew Brees prevailed with record-breaking seasons the past two years. This record-breaking season, he claimed the passing yards record previously held by Peyton Manning. He also finished with a 74.4% completion percentage, breaking an NFL record set by him last year at 72%. When you look at his career statistics, you want to include Drew Brees in the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) conversation. But with only 1 Superbowl on his GOAT resume, it’s difficult comparing him to Tom Brady, who just won his 6th ring. While Brees may hold NFL records, Brady has a legacy of winning. A Michael Jordan type legacy, now with the same 2 hands worth of championship rings. A Drew Brees that possibly beats Brady in the Super Bowl establishes the Saints hall of fame QB in the GOAT conversation. Without the opportunity to play and beat postseason Brady, Drew Brees may never get the opportunity to be argued as the greatest QB to ever play. Standing by my personal opinion, Brees deserves it; especially after all the adversity, he faced in his career. His work ethic and consistent play for nearly two decades stand for itself. Also, I forgot to mention, he has more career game-winning drives than Brady.