Grant Saints fans their stages of grief

Predictably enough, now the Saints-Rams backlash is settling in.

New Orleans — Who Dat Nation, really — had all the early sympathy votes from virtually every corner of the nation except maybe Los Angeles, where the main focus was on the Grammy Awards or the something really important to the nation’s health, like the Golden Globes.

It wasn’t just sympathy like the nationwide outpouring toward the state post-Katrina.

It bordered on moral outrage, a nation united as the USA’s most powerful entity, the NFL, bullied a good, quirky, funky city like the Big Easy by denying it its rightful spot in the Super Bowl.

Football fans everywhere had the Saints’ fans’ backs; they were one with them.

Sitting in the Superdome Sunday as the sonic boos rained down on a crew of officials whose body language suggested they knew they’d messed up royally, I was pretty sure what the reaction of this crazy state was going to be.

I figured somebody would be mobilizing the state National Guard and soon enough M1 tanks adorned with the fleur de lis would be rolling down Park Avenue toward NFL headquarters.

I wasn’t so sure how it would go over nationally.

But you have to admit it was refreshing to see the nation rally around the Saints. The No-Call was suddenly going to revolutionize the NFL — at least on talk radio and TV — with meaningful changes called for that would assure that nothing like this disaster ever happens again.

The martyrdom lasted almost a week.

Now, suddenly, it seems, everybody wants to take a step back. The common, unsolicited suggestion seems to be that, hey, Saints fans, you got robbed. That’s life. Everybody knows you should be in the Super Bowl. But give it up. Time to move on. Life goes on.

The Saints got their 15 minutes of national support, it’s time to leave it alone.

It was — get ready for it, here it comes — just a football game.

5-4-3-2 …

Just a who?

Surely you jest.

Let it go?

They’re underestimating who they’re dealing with here.

Maybe in Wyoming you let it go. Around here our self-esteem is 98 percent football.

Saints fans are still mad about Bountygate. You expect them to lay down and say “Darn the luck” after being denied a spot in the dadgum Super Bowl?

Still, the revisionist counterattacks have been predictable.

But don’t give us the bull that the Saints had ample other opportunities to win the game. Don’t go digging up other plays that might have gone the Saints’ way. Don’t tell the Saints that bad calls are just part of the game.

The entire NFL business model — from TV revenue sharing to the order of the draft to the salary cap to the scheduling format —is set up to guarantee enough forced parity that every game should come down to that final two minutes … when the officials are in charge and generally decide it.

And they blew it more blatantly than any call in NFL postseason history — still no one disagrees with that.

Your average game plan just tries to set you up to get in that position with a chance to win.

So basically Saints’ fans will move on but never completely forget it, when and if they’re danged good and ready.

Admittedly, some of the conspiracy theories are a little over the top. One more time: it was a huge mistake, not a premeditated, carefully orchestrated master plan that got the Rams in the Super Bowl.

The sworn testimony of the offending party, Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, really doesn’t prove intent, only that the crime was committed.

And it doesn’t really matter if some of the officials lived in Jared Goff’s garage apartment.

But the rest of the world needs to let Louisiana deal with this as only Louisiana can.

Irrational, yes. So what else is new? But maybe it will help.

If that means plastering anti-NFL billboards all over Atlanta and New Orleans to make a point, then go for it. Let’s just try to get a little more clever as the Super Bowl nears.

If that means frivolous lawsuits from showboating attorneys coming in from all angles — “Loss of enjoyment of life,” sounds pretty reasonable — then file away.

If it means our governor firing off letters to Commissioner Roger Goodell, then, hey, it’s an election year.

Nutty. Silly. Useless. Petty. Hey, it’s how we roll around here.

Nobody really thinks it’s going to do any good.

But if it’s totally absurd and slightly entertaining, hey, that’s Louisiana.

Maybe it helps the healing process.

I guess what I’m saying is that Saints’ fans will let you know when it’s time for them to forget about it and move on.


 

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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Los Angeles Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints’ Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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