I really shouldn’t be painting my favorite Saints players. I paint chickadees and pelicans and hummingbirds– quiet little things that don’t really care much for football or the community it creates. I don’t have many words right now, so my truly gifted and wonderful friend Jennifer Smith Richard graciously allowed me to borrow her words which articulate so powerfully what so many of us decades-long Saints are feeling. Last night she wrote:
I’ve been a Saints fan long enough to remember a lot of things.
I remember the Aints and the paper bags. I remember listening to the game on the radio because we didn’t sell enough tickets for the game to be televised.
I vividly remember “Shoulda, woulda, coulda.”
“Shoulda.” What a concept tonight. The refs shoulda made that call. We shoulda won. We shoulda made it to the Superbowl tonight.
But this city isn’t built on “shouldas.” It’s built on shouldn’ts.
On paper, Drew Brees shouldn’t be the GOAT. Announcers love to tell us his age, his height, the improbability of his greatness. They scratch their heads at his accuracy. They love to say he shouldn’t be able to do it, but week after week, he does. He definitely shouldn’t have come to play for us, a city with its back broken, a losing franchise, a home stadium haunted by tragedy. He shoulda taken one look and run, but he didn’t. He stayed, and he’s the greatest QB to ever play the game. He’s the MVP of the league no matter what.
We have a history of players who shouldn’t have succeeded. They were too small or too old. They weren’t drafted, or they were free agents. But Payton knows what he’s looking for, and knows when he sees it. Season after season, he proves it. He’s built legends out of players that other teams overlooked, players whose careers shoulda ended.
In 2006, Gleason shouldn’t have been able to block that punt, but he did. In 09, a lot of people thought Hartley wouldn’t hit that fleur de lis, but he did. And the on-side kick in the Superbowl? C’mon. That shouldn’t have worked . . . Except it did.
They’ll say we shouldn’t have a parade to celebrate this season . . . but we will.
The refs shouldn’t have taken that game away from us tonight, but we’re a city that knows what to do with shouldn’t. We shouldn’t ever give up hope. After all, I grew up hearing, “There’s always next season.”
There’s always next season. And Goodell, the NFL, and the world shouldn’t count us out.