The Statue of Liberty sports the following quote:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Starting in 2006, the Saints became the personification of the Statue of Liberty for the NFL, and I'm not referring to the play. They took shots on players considered past their prime. Since our acquisition of Drew Brees, the team has consistently put faith in those too old, too much trouble, too much attitude, and too injured, most recently being eight days ago.
Let's take a gander at the homeless, tempest-tost who landed on our levee-depleted shores:
We showed Dew Brees on the spot (as opposed to Nick Saban, see here) our faith in him. He moved to New Orleans and entrenched himself into the community. Look what he has produced both on and off the field in the subsequent years. Monday night, he wracked up 18/23 for 371 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Ever heard of a perfect game? Yeah, that was it.
Many said that he was washed up; that there was no way that he was going to be the Sharper of old. He has a league-high of eight interceptions and now is three yards short of the NFL records for most yards returned from interceptions. Not bad for an old guy.
The one who got away. The one Sean Payton said that he regretted for releasing. Granted, Carney makes me a bit nervous. I'm not sure what's going on with these misses and near-misses--if it has to do with him, Mark Brunell, or our new long-snapper, Jason Kyle. All I do know is that I rather have Methuselah Carney as our kicker than Martin Not-So-Automatica.
Yes, Jeremy posed a problem for Eli Manning and the Giants. He mouthed off, bullied his QB, and felt the ultimate humiliation being skipped over for the flight to the Superbowl. Since his arrival to New Orleans, especially this past off-season, Shockey has become an integral part of team, whether through his receptions or through blocking. He has stepped forward in supporting his team, highlighting team accomplishments over personal accomplishments, and don't worry, he'll have a seat on the plane to Miami come February.
The Great Bust of the 2007 draft. Pundits questioned whether or not Payton could pick talent. Yet, the Saints gave Meachem the time he needed and he has become one of Brees' most reliable wide receivers this season. He has seven touchdowns this season and averages over 17 yards per carry.
Other than Michael Oher's moving story, Anthony Hargrove's accomplishments in overcoming adversity has exemplified grace, faith, and redemption. And, that has made him truly a Saint. Literally at the end of his career due to his off-field problems, the Saints, normally a team to who shies away from controversial players with the exception of said Shockey, gave Hargrove a chance at taking back his life. That faith worked and he has now become a role model, both on and off the field.
Mckenzie might be one of my most favorite stories this season. A perennial Pro-Bowl player, Mckenzie suffered catastrophic knee injuries over the course of the last two seasons. While he still made New Orleans his home, he soon learned what it was like to be a part of the Who Dat nation. With the recent spate of injuries to our secondary, the Saints re-signed him only days ago. Monday night, like Brees, he performed one of the greatest games of his career with three tackles, three deflections, and one interception.
The City of New Orleans:
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, all those involved with the Saints organization took a chance on the city of New Orleans. Doug Thorton performed a miracle and ensured that the team had a facility to play in. The Bensons returned the team to New Orleans. And, the team as a whole provided an avenue for all of us to come home and gave us the faith that we need to overcome certain odds. All day long today on local talk radio, callers remark about the resurgence of the team and how they spur the resurgence of the city. The New Orleans Saints gave this city hope during a time when we didn't have this hope in ourselves. They provide people with a plan to succeed. It depends on discipline, dedication, and determination.
We may be tired and poor right now. We, however, are working our way to that golden door in Miami.
We are contenders. We are New Orleans. We are America.
Article cross-published at chicksinthehuddle.com