Thank you, thank you, thank you.You know how sometimes when you hope and wish for something to happen, maybe for a very long time, and you imagine a million different ways it could possibly play out, and you wait and hope and dream and wait and wait and wait… and then it finally comes to pass, and you just can't help but to be a little let down? You've built it up in your head to such an impossible degree of epic greatness, there was just no way the actual event could live up to what you had dreamt of?

This… was not that. Not by a long shot. This wasn't just better than you possibly could have scripted it. It was better than you possibly could have imagined it.

No matter what happens from here, it'll never get any better than Sunday, February 7 2010. It can't get any better than that. It's just not possible. And I'm just fine with that. Because Sunday, February 7 2010 is going to feel like yesterday for the rest of our lives.

This is how I want to remember the Saints, for ever and ever. It probably is how I'll remember the Saints forever. This group of guys. This head coach. This quarterback. This moment in time. Hell, I've even carved out a permanent little spot in my heart for Reggie Bush.

They could win the next 10 Super Bowls, and while that would be pretty freakin' sweet, all the rest of 'em put together will pale in comparison to this. They could go 3-13 next year, and while I'd be ranting and raving right alongside the rest of you, at the end of the day, we'll always have 2009-2010. This? This is forever.

Thank you, boys. I'm so glad you "get it" because there's no way I could ever explain it.

The funny thing is, after allowing myself a full week to bask in the afterglow, to drink it all in and just be in this moment in every way I possibly could for as long as possible, to pore over everything I could possibly read, listen to, watch, re-watch or otherwise consume to make the moment last, I came to the realization that the championship itself isn't what made this so special.

Oh the championship is great, don't get me wrong. It's like the grain of dust around which the snowflake crystallizes. The championship was a necessary component for it to have become the unforgettable experience of pure, unadulterated greatness it became. It wouldn't have been the same without it.

But the championship itself wouldn't have been nearly as sweet if not for all the specialness surrounding it. I mean, let's face it, there have been 43 other Super Bowls and 43 other Super Bowl winners. Lots of assholes have won championships. There have been times, lots of times, when aside from the participants and their fans, not many people really gave a shit. There have been more than a few boring Super Bowls, sloppy Super Bowls, ones where there was controversial officiating and people came out of it wondering if the better team had won.

But this? This wasn't "just another Super Bowl" and these Saints aren't just another Super Bowl Champion. This was epic. It was special. Hell, special doesn't even cover it. It was unique. Singular.

And Saints fans aren't the only ones who think so. No, even people who didn't have a dog in the hunt agree. Casual observers got swept up in it. Cynical sports fans softened. Even many Colts fans, with the sting of defeat still fresh, tipped their caps and, to a degree that I'm sure had to have been surprising for them, smiled right along with us and shared a little of our unparalleled joy.

These Saints were a real life Rocky fuckin' Balboa.

Why? Because it was special. Not just because the Saints won, but because of how they won. Because of who they are. Because they did it right. They did it clean. They did it convincingly. They did it with class and poise and discipline and a genuine appreciation for the profundity of what it was they were in the final stages of accomplishing. Not just for them, but for us. These guys get it.

And you didn't have to be a Saints fan and you didn't have to have followed them all season to see it, and to know that there wasn't anything phony about it. The Saints weren't shy about putting it all out there. They praised us as much as we praised them. They thanked us as much as we thanked them. They kept us front and center, and they didn't have to.

And, unlike many in the national media, these Saints clearly understand that this thing didn't just start in September of 2005. No, this thing goes much farther back than that. That they get that makes it real.

All teams gladhand their fans, it's just good business. But you could tell that these guys weren't just blowing sunshine up our asses. These guys get it. They really get it. And as a result, a whole lot of other people who otherwise might never have really gotten it now do too.

Whether you're a Saints fan or not, there's just nothing not to like about this team. About these men. I can only imagine how many people came to that realization Sunday. Drew probably has no idea how right he was when he speculated that the Saints might have picked up "a few" fans Sunday.

And it certainly helps that there was nothing phony about their performance on the field either. No flukes, they weren't handed anything on a silver platter by the incompetence of the opponents or the officials. They weren't playing above their heads or anything like that.

They earned it. Just like they'd been doing all year. And they did it decisively, convincingly, entertainingly. If nothing else, this team never, ever fails to entertain. For all the right reasons.

They did it with smarts, guile, physicality, aggressiveness, determination, resilience, hustle, and lots and lots of skill.

What the Saints showed the world Sunday was what they'd been showing us all season. Nothing phony about it. It was a perfect snapshot of what this team really is. A damn strong football team.

With the possible exception of Mike Bell and his shoes, nobody had what could be considered a "bad game." By no means was it a perfect performance, but there weren't any particularly embarrassing mistakes or anything like that. They didn't crumble under the pressure or wilt under the bright lights. Instead, they rose to the challenge and proved that they were up to it. They left no doubt that they belonged in that game. They deserved to be there, every one of them.

At the same time, with the possible exception of Drew in terms of accuracy, nobody had a particularly monster game either. Which I don't consider a bad thing by any means. To the contrary, I'm glad it happened that way. There was nothing particularly unusual about the performance. Nobody can say that the Saints just had the best day of their lives and they're not really as good as they looked. Nobody can say that the Saints were "carried" by a huge day by one particular player.

It was a total team effort in all three phases of the game. Everybody carried his weight, everybody played a part in it. They were who they are, they did what they do, they played like they play, they were special, they smelled greatness, they finished strong. And that's what made the win so convincing, and so unbelievably fuckin' satisfying.

It was typical Saints football. It was what they'd been doing all year. Nothing more, nothing less.

Drew's game might have been slightly better than could reasonably have been predicted, but it certainly wasn't much of a surprise. Even people around the country who don't follow the Saints have come to expect that kind of performance from Drew.

Still, 10 straight completions to end the game, including 8 to 8 different receivers on the game-winning drive, that's just ridiculous. Montana-esque. Elway-esque. If that drive had come a little later in the game, and if the margin of victory had been less than 14, that drive would have gone down as one of the all-time greats.

But it's a testament to the total team effort that that drive will end up largely overshadowed. I mean, holding the vaunted Indy offense to 17 points? Seriously? After they averaged 26 per game in the regular season and dropped 30 on Rex Ryan's #1 ranked defense in the AFC Championship Game? Holding The Great Peyton Manning to one touchdown? Hell, if you consider Tracy Porter's interception and want to go all "net" with it, they shut him out.

And how can you say enough about Scooter and Puntmaster Flex?

In the championship game of the single worst season for kickers in the history of the league, Garrett Hartley puts up the single strongest kicking effort in Super Bowl history. 3 for 3, all from 40+ yards. Nails. And this from a guy who wasn't even activated until week 13!

Thomas Morstead… a rookie… in the Super Bowl… 2 punts, 42 and 46 yards, one dropped inside the 5… in a critical situation which led to an eventual score just before the half that wouldn't have happened if not for that field position. 6 kickoffs, 3 in the end zone and one game-changing onside kick, which just happened to be the first he'd ever attempted in a game. Nails.

Technically special teams: I don't think I'll ever really understand how Lance Moore actually converted that two pointer. He did convert it, no doubt about it. But how? I saw it with my own eyes, and I'm still not convinced it's even possible.

Throw a little Chris Reis in there, and special teams deserves every bit as much credit for the win as the offense and defense.

And then there's Coach Payton and staff. It's the decision to call the onside kick that'll be remembered, of course. And because it worked, it'll mostly be remembered fondly, even though it led to some high comedy as heads were exploding all over the Tweeter Tubes. The challenge on the two point conversion was also brilliant… again, because it worked out.

But it won't be those things that stick with me the most. Those things can always go either way, and there's a significant flip-of-the-coin factor with those kinds of things. Nobody will ever really know if the onside kick was necessary, and there's a fine line between "ballsy" and "foolish." Don't believe me, just ask Les Miles. Personally, I think the decision to challenge the two pointer was largely a no-brainer, and as we all know, you might as well just flip a coin as far as how the officials will call it.

What made the onside kick call great is why it was called, and what it tells you about our head coach. It wasn't a desperation call. It wasn't based on fear of giving The Great Peyton Manning the ball. They were only down by 4 with 30 minutes of football left to be played, for crying out loud.

No, that call was based on aggressiveness and confidence. Confidence that his players were able and prepared to execute it. Confidence that if it worked, the offense would make it count. Confidence that if it didn't work, his defense wouldn't let it kill 'em.

And, perhaps most impressive to me personally, a willingness to be second-guessed. A complete lack of fear of making himself the goat. A complete disregard of any other option but to go down swinging. Taking the fight to the opponent rather than standing idly by and letting it slip through your grasp all for the sake of avoiding the heat. An understanding that "playing it safe" is a risk in and of itself.

That's why these guys run through walls for him.

We've had an awful lot of fun over the last four years at Payton's expense, what with the motivational tactics, the catchphrases, the special guest stars, all that stuff. "Smell Greatness" will never not be funny. And we have no plans to stop having fun with it. Hell, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

But can there be any doubt left that it works? As silly as it comes across sometimes, it's part of why this team seems far more closely-knit than any other Saints team I've ever seen. Far more intensely focused, with every man in that locker room on the same page at all times. Far calmer and stronger in the face of adversity. Never failing to stay the course.

And for as much shit Payton has taken at times for being percieved as arrogant and/or stubborn, I think we can safely put that to rest now. Oh sure, it's easy to be humble when you've just won a championship. Just let the Seven Pounds of Silver do your gloating for you. But how could anybody have watched Coach Payton asking his players on the sideline "Do you like the play call? Do you love it?" and call him stubborn? How could anyone see the look on his face and listen to his words on the Championship Stage and then in the media room and doubt that it's genuine?

It took an awful lot of humility for Sean Payton to concede back in the offseason that half a football team just wasn't gonna get the job done, and that he needed help. And it took an awful lot of humility to bring in a former head coach that he knew was gonna command (command, not necessarily demand) his share of the spotlight, his share of the credit.

And then, right smack dab in the middle of the greatest moment of his career, as he's having praise heaped upon him for "the ballsiest coaching job in Super Bowl history" not only does he share the moment with Gregg Williams, he goes even farther than that. He makes it a point to mention Gary Gibbs and the other guys who weren't part of this particular 2009 Saints team, but who played their part in building the foundation for it. "Guys who came here when not a lot of guys wanted to come." That, folks, is real.

We're extremely fortunate that this guy is our head coach. And I do mean our head coach. It wouldn't have been the same with some retread. We've witnessed Sean Payton's coming of age as a head coach. We've gone through it right along with him. I find that gratifying, and I'm confident that Coach Payton does too. And the best part? It's just the beginning.

There was just nothing about this wild ride that was anything resembling run-of-the-mill. Everything about it was beyond our wildest dreams. It was beyond perfect.

And just as awesome was that it was compelling even to people for whom Super Bowl XLIV was the first Saints game they'd watched all year, or even the first Saints game they'd ever watched in their lives. Why? Because it was just so damn real.

The phoniest, most plastic-fantastic, Hollywooded-out sporting event in the world got itself a heaping dose of Real. Raw. Genuine.

New Orleans.

Our New Orleans Saints.

They got a big long deep whiff of the pungent aroma of New Orleans' Greatness. And I'm pretty sure they didn't just like it, they loved it.

How could they not?

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