Not that there's anything wrong with that...Back in February, after the Saints won the Super Bowl (high five!) I referred to them as "a real-life Rocky fuckin' Balboa." Perhaps I should have considered at the time how the story picks up in the first half of III. Because, in retrospect, the 2010 Saints' regular season turned out to be pretty much one big long 17-week exhibition bout against Thunderlips. Balboa's attitude during the first minute or so pretty much sums it up, no? And then the playoffs came, and Marshawn Lynch went all Clubber Lang on our asses.

He's hooking. He's hooking. He's hooking! Damn, Rock! Come on! What's the matter with you?

Deep down, we all knew there was a chance that Saturday would play out like it did. Some of us, and I'm guiltier than anybody, simply refused to acknowledge it. Deep down, we've all known all season that there was something not-quite-right. Some of us, again none more than yours truly, continually turned a blind eye to it. Blew it off as a temporary this and a not-what-it-looks-like that. After all, they were still Rocky fuckin' Balboa. They were still The Champ. Ten title defenses. What's the problem?

But somewhere amidst all the statue-erecting, guest appearances on the Muppet Show, endorsing of Cruch Punch candy bars and banging Talia Shire as frequently as humanly possible (not that there's anything at all wrong with that) the eye of the tiger was fading fast.

Hell, you ain't been hungry since you won that belt!

When you're defending your title against hand-picked contenders, you can get away with training in a huge ballroom among hordes of fans, paparazzi and groupies while champagne flows, a 10-piece band with a player piano belts out Frank Stallone's Greatest Hits, and a bubble machine annoys the shit out of Mickey. You can afford to sign autographs while riding a stationary bike. Mug for the cameras while sparring. But sooner or later, somebody's gonna come along and kill you to death inside of three rounds.

Some of us, like Mickey, saw it coming pretty early on. And they expressed genuine concern that would eventually prove prescient. While also suffering occasional heart palpitations.

Others, like Paulie, spent much of the season in a self-pitying drunken haze, bitching and moaning about all the ways in which the Champs were letting them down by failing to do all they "should" to ensure that the gravy train kept on rolling forever. They destroyed Saints-themed pinball machines. They threw their Ex-Lax watches to the ground. They waxed righteous about how they had the Saints' backs long before they were Champs, and how the Saints owed them. But mostly, they just flailed about hilariously. "I'm gonna break your freakin' mouth up!"

The rest of us? Well, we just kept on going back to the champagne fountain, didn't we? Occasionally pausing to shout "Freebird!" "Halftime!" in Frank Stallone's general direction. Hey, I'm sure as hell not about to apologize for it. We might have been as blinded as Balboa was to the oncoming train, but we damn sure spent the last 4 months in a far better mood than those who did see it coming. High five!

Well, Rock, let's put it this way. Now, three years ago you was supernatural. You was hard and you was nasty and you had this cast-iron jaw. But then the worst thing happened to you that could happen to any fighter. You got civilized.

And that's really the heart of the matter, isn't it? Set aside for a moment the fact that Mickey said it, and therefore it must be true. What other explanation can there be? It was the same fuckin' team. The same Godlike quarterback, the same kickass guards, the same kickass corners, the same kickass middle linebacker, the same kickass wideouts, the same kickass head coach and defensive coordinator. Hell, I'll continue to insist that in many ways, the 2010 Saints were actually better than the 2009 Saints. Or shoulda been, anyway.

But there was something missing. All season. Call it "the edge." Call it "hunger." Call it "the eye of the tiger." Hell, call it "luck" if you want. There's no denying that the ball didn't bounce the Saints' way this year. But "luck" or the lack thereof sure as hell didn't have anything to do with Saturday's loss to the Seahawks. The Saints just got their asses kicked. They shouldn't have, but they did.

If you're looking for evidence of that lack of "edge", that lack of "killer instinct", you don't have to look any farther than Sean Payton's decision to kick short and give Seattle a shit ton of "hidden yards" rather than give his special teams an opportunity to fuck up even worse than that. With a 10 point lead, for crying out loud. This is the same guy who called an onside kick 10 months ago to open the second half of the fuckin' Super Bowl, down by 4.

The tone was set right there. Sean Payton might as well have just waved a big flag that said "I'm really not all that confident over here." Shit, since when has that been a thing? Wait, was it when he opted to punt while down by 10 with 5:16 remaining against Arizona?

I mean, why couldn't Mickey tell me where I was really at right from the start? He didn't have to carry me and lie to me and make me think I was better than I really was when I wasn't.

Here's why:

Because the beating that you got from Apollo should've killed you, kid. It didn't. It was my job to keep you winning and to keep you healthy.

Nice job on the whole "keeping you healthy" thing there, Mick Sean. But I suppose I can see where you're coming from. I mean, once you reach the mountaintop, you don't have a whole lot of choice but to go into maintenance mode. Which is a whole different thing altogether. And not only is it a slippery slope, it's also one you've probably never had to navigate before. It's a whole new ballgame. And it certainly didn't help that, after all, you did accept the invitation to move into Rock's swanky new mansion. I'm just sayin'. You signed a few books your own self.

What this team really needs right about now is the Master of Disaster. The Count of Monte Fisto. To pull a shocking face turn and take them to some shithole gym in motherfucking Compton. To get that eye of the tiger back. To strip away all the bullshit and get back to what's Real™.

See that look in their eyes, Rock? You gotta get that look back, Rock.

If Rocky has taught us nothing else over the last 30+ years, it's at least taught us that he who trains in the shittier gym wins.

The Saints need a shittier gym.

They need to get back to punching sides of beef and chasing chickens and shit. (Hey, I'm playing fast and loose with the chronology over here. Sue me.)

They also might do well to reinvent themselves a little bit as well. Much like Apollo taught Rocky to dance and glide and stick and move "like a black fighter" maybe it's time to accept the fact that Drew Brees is a mere mortal, takeaways don't necessarily happen whenever you dial one up, and it would help if your left jab (the running game) left a mark every once in a while.

More on the specifics of all that at a later date. Meantime, all I know is that it damn sure ain't gonna require cutting half the fuckin' roster like Paulie Message Board Guy figures would be the prudent thing to do right about now. Sigh. Fuckin' Paulie.

So who's got Carl Weathers' cell number? Surely he got drunk and posted it on Twitter at some point, right? RIGHT?

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