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JOESAM2002 12-08-2004 08:50 PM

Ready to give up on a dream?

Ready to give up on dream?
Kevin Foote

December 8, 2004

The New Orleans Saints are one of the worst teams in a watered-down, mediocre NFL these days.

And considering they’ve only won a single playoff game in 38 years, you’d have to rank our boys from the Crescent City as one of the worst franchises in the history of the league.

So it’s not exactly the peak time for owner Tom Benson and his management types to be traveling around the state pleading their case that the Superdome needs to be renovated and appealing to a long, seemingly lost statewide love affair for the Black and Gold.

Saints’ executive vice president Arnold Fielkow visited our newspaper last week with a presentation about the future of the franchise in Louisiana.

Some of what he said made sense, some of his answers to our questions merely beat around the bush and some didn’t appear to be accurate on the surface.

Fielkow said one thing, however, that rang very true in my ears, and it’s the one issue that needs to be strongly considered from both sides.

The statement was that if the Saints leave New Orleans, the NFL will never return to Louisiana again. It may sound like a threat to some, but folks, it’s true.

On paper, this region simply can’t afford an NFL franchise. The only reason why it has one now is that it obtained a team almost 40 years ago when the league’s economic structure was a very different animal.

So to all who are down on the Saints and bitter about any demands that they’re making with a 4-8 record, the real question is, are you ready to give up on having a team forevermore?

Are you ready to forget about John Gilliam’s kickoff return in the first-ever Saints’ game in 1967?

Are you ready to forget about the memorable 51-42 record-breaking win at St. Louis in 1969?

Are you ready to discard the memory of Tom Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal in 1970?

Are you ready to throw out the Saints’ defense holding O.J. Simpson to his lowest rushing total of 1973 (79 yards) when he eclipsed 2,000 yards?

Are you ready to forget about the excitement of those first few playoff temptations in 1978, 1979 and 1983 when a few horrible breaks kept New Orleans from postseason play?

Are you ready to toss out the memories of 1987 when a nine-game winning streak produced the thrills of a first-ever playoff trip?

Are you ready to diminish that one special moment when the Saints jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Minnesota in that first playoff game, before everything came crashing down in 44-10 defeat?

Are you really ready to throw aside the stretch between 1987 and 1993 when the Saints had seven straight seasons without a losing record and four double-digit win seasons to finally bring pride to the fans?

Are you really ready to forget about the excitement of that first-ever playoff win over St. Louis in 2000?

Are you ready to rip off that unique badge of courage Saints’ fans wore for so many years decorated with the frustrations of all the raw deals handed to New Orleans over the years by such teams as 49ers, Falcons, Giants Vikings, and Dolphins?

It indeed has been a rugged ride filled with tears, bitterness and repeated disappointments, but it’s been a ride.

Do we really wish that the Saints had never existed? Were all the losses so painful that you really wish you never had a team in the state to support?

Do we really want to throw away that slim chance that one day the Saints might actually get to the Super Bowl?

So before we let the franchise’s present demise affect our decision-making, let’s really make sure that we don’t want a team 20 to 30 years from now.

Because when it’s gone, it’s gone — forever.

jbutts 12-08-2004 11:01 PM

Ready to give up on a dream?
unless you live in Cleveland.
but we see the good that has done them.

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