Saints aim to cap season with storybook conclusion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

You couldn’t write a story like Sunday’s NFC championship game and make it believable.

Formerly downtrodden team led by a quarterback a few years removed from career-threatening shoulder surgery nearly goes undefeated, piles up points and this season finally finds a defense.

Steve Wilson is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at 636-4545, ext. 142 or email

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City that was flooded by one of the worst natural disasters to strike the U.S. rallies around the team.

Regional icon and colorful quarterback returns for one more season with his old team’s archrival and puts together his best season ever despite turning age 40.

The suspension of disbelief would be impossible with the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings battling for a trip to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV in the Superdome.

It’s amazing that the Saints have bolstered civic pride following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and turned every homecoming at the airport into a big party (New Orleans, party, imagine that). Now they play for their first Super Bowl appearance.

Making the story even better is that for the better part of 30 years, the Saints stunk to high heaven. Fans wore bags so they wouldn’t be seen at games, an innovation along with the nickname “Aints” invented by the late WWL radio host Bernard “Buddy D” Diliberto.

The iconic quote by former coach Jim Mora after a miserable 19-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers summed up the Saints’ first 30 years as a franchise.

“We couldn’t do diddly poo offensively, we couldn’t make a first down, we couldn’t run the ball, we didn’t try to run the ball, we couldn’t complete a pass — we sucked. The second half, we sucked.”

But now, all of that is forgotten. No more bags. No more Aints. Just “bring the wood.”

No more Jim Mora and overly conservative game plans. With Drew Brees in the fold, Sean Payton is very fond of keeping the foot firmly floored to the firewall.

Then there’s Brett Favre, raised just an hour away in Kiln. He was widely ridiculed for his annual rite of spring when if he sees his shadow, he decides to return to the NFL before retreating to his palatial estate outside Hattiesburg. His constant waffling on retirement seemed to catch up with him in 2008 after the Green Bay Packers cut ties and he signed with the New York Jets, who didn’t even make the playoffs.

But this year, he filled a void on a Minnesota Vikings team that boasted one of the league’s best backs, Adrian Peterson, and the most fearsome pass rush in the league.

His numbers are shockingly good. He completed 363 of 531 passes for 4,202 yards, the most yards he had thrown for since 1998, and threw 33 TD passes against a career-low seven interceptions.

So if you want to find out how this story ends, tune in Sunday. The conclusion figures to be a classic.