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tiggerpolice 08-16-2005 07:22 AM

Preseason Anything But Meaningless For Saints Fans
August 15, 2005
By Frank Leon
WNSP and WGSO co-host “Inside the Saints�

Dear Saints Fan,

We all know it. The preseason doesn’t count and by noon on September 11th it will become a dim memory. But all the same, Saint’s Fans were rightfully concerned after witnessing a 34-15 blowout loss to the Seahawks in the Dome Friday night.

Behind the eight ball early, the Saints were unable to fight back from adversity, largely on account of three first half turnovers and too many big plays given up by the defense. In other words, the Saints seemed to have regressed to the sort of team we saw the first part of 2004 rather than the one that won four consecutive games to end the season.

More than anything else, fans were hoping to see a team that could live up to the glowing reports we’ve heard throughout two weeks of training camp. What we watched was a team that continues to struggle when the chips are down. Once in a hole, the Saints dug deeper rather than climbing out. An identity the team must shed to get over the hump and into the playoff mix once the regular season begins.

While Jim Haslett’s focus is to rally his players, the psyche of fans remains brittle. With less than 35,000 season tickets sold to date, it appears that the fan base has reached the end of its rope. Rather than investing in an entire season in advance, fan support will be a week-to-week proposition.

There was a time when the outcome didn’t matter so much. In fact, until the team posted it’s first winning season under Jim Mora, going to a Saints game was more of a social occasion than anything else. The Saints were our lovable losers, but that didn’t stop throngs of fans from showing up. But it’s become a lot tougher to justify an afternoon in the Dome.

Until recently, caravans of fans would leave from the Florida panhandle while picking up convoys of decorated vehicles from Mobile through Mississippi. But these days, many of those stalwarts are still waiting for construction crews to repair their roofs from Hurricane Ivan. Others wonder why they should pay fifty or more dollars for a tank of gas and another twenty for off-street parking in addition to coming up with the cash for a ticket, program, a couple of hot dogs and a beer. Without regional support from all points, the television blackout will seldom be lifted. Locals will be left to watch other teams during the Sunday NFL broadcast, further diluting their connection to the Black and Gold.

Consequently, even though this is only the preseason, fans will be demanding more of the team and will be less forgiving of the sort of performance offered last Friday. Despite the fact that the games have no bearing on the regular season standings, it’s much easier to downplay a preseason victory than explain a loss.

In the meantime, fans are left to trust the admonition of Haslett after the game, “Don’t panic. It’s only the preseason.�

Until Next Time,


Euphoria 08-16-2005 10:57 AM

RE: Preseason Anything But Meaningless For Saints Fans
I never noticed the play calling change from a game plan to a we're behind lets play like it... until late late in the fourth during AM's 2 min. drill if you will. I sensed them playing as if it was a preseason game... evaluation and getting reps. Obviously our back ups stunk.

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