The Saints remain a reflection of New Orleans – for better, or in this case, for worse
Time is a flat circle.
Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.
The above dialogue was grumbled by Matthew McConaughey’s Rustin Cohle in the first season of the New Orleans-filmed HBO series True Detective, and has since become an iconic and oft-quoted moment for a show that started with a banger of a first season, limped through a hilariously bad sophomore run, and returned to its high quality prestige drama status for the third go-round.
Indeed, time is a flat circle, but not only for fictional Louisiana State Police detectives.
You know what else is over-quoted? That the Saints are a reflection of New Orleans. How many times have we heard this phrase parroted by some national news outlet, or in an ESPN pre-game package?
But like that very meme-able piece of True Detective dialogue, that phrase also rings true.
The 15 years of the Drew Brees-Sean Payton marriage was magical, and those teams were both a reflection of, and inspiration for, New Orleans’ renaissance post-Katrina.
The team – and the city – was rebuilding itself better than it had ever been before. People actually cared about the state of city, and for the first time in a long time, there was legitimate hope that we could transcend our station as a kitschy tourist destination.
For a time, the collective New Orleans cultural hive mind evolved into something greater than a hard-luck character one might find stumbling between the pages of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. The team, and by extension, the fans, were no longer lovable losers who couldn’t get out of their own way.
For a time, we were winners.
But now, Brees is babysitting his army of young children. Payton was traded to the Denver Broncos after leaving his friends, players and colleagues high and dry, mid-contract. The Saints are QB-less, riddled with expensive stars entering the 2023 offseason nursing injuries, and led by Dennis Allen, a Bar Mitzvah cover band version of his old boss.
Meanwhile, New Orleans itself has descended into chaos. Crime is so out of control that Pelicans officials have raised concern over fan safety in the CBD. Half the city streets are unnavigable mud pits, thanks to roadwork that sits untouched, in the rain, for weeks. Not to mention the mayor (allegedly) had an affair with her ex-NOPD bodyguard while he was still on the clock, essentially turning him into an illegally taxpayer-funded male prostitute. Apparently, she does not give one single fuck about it, or any of the city’s other myriad issues.
The D-Aints (I mean, Saints!) are indeed a reflection of their city once again – corrupt, decaying and kinda hopeless.
If one were to look at this glass half-empty, one could say that just as Gayle Benson is surrounded by sycophants and yes-men who convinced her that the team could be competitive by running it back with Brees-Payton understudies, LaToya Cantrell is flanked by advisors who are, quite literally, kissing her ass.
Bring back Pete Carmichael. Get rid of our hot young co-defensive coordinators. Make irrational decisions. In the infamous words of Dennis Allen – just keep doing what you’re doing!
But time is a flat circle. The course will correct; the virus will pass.
As torturous as 2022 was for the Who Dat Nation, watching Dennis Allen’s team make the same mistakes over and over again while our sad excuse for an offense squandered an elite defense, you’d be a dunce yourself if you think DA, Mickey Loomis and the rest of the brain trust are stupid. They watched the games, too.
They also helped build all of those great Brees-Payton teams, and (allegedly) threw the kitchen sink at Deshaun Watson last offseason. Under Loomis’ watch, there will never be a full rebuild. He will always try to field a competitive team. He will always try.
And for that, we should be grateful.
The Saints will go big-game QB hunting in the coming weeks and months. Maybe their guy is a free agent, or maybe he’ll be acquired with the help of that shiny new first round pick from the Payton trade.
Either way, it would be shocking if the Saints fielded the same product in 2023. Just with injury luck alone, they shouldn’t.
But if they do, Dennis Allen will be shipped to MSY in the smelliest of taxi cabs.
Maybe Saints Twitter has been a little hard on the team lately (this writer included), but if we want the things we love to be great, then we have to be brutally honest. We have to hold the stewards of these institutions accountable.
If that means expressing our vociferous displeasure on the Internet, or yelling, “Fire DA!” at Gayle Benson as she walks past you on the Smoothie King Center concourse during a Pels game, then so be it.
And if there’s a NSFW LaToya Cantrell/Jeffrey Vappie (the bodyguard in question) “tandem float” in Krewe D’Etat this year, well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Maybe time is not a flat circle. Maybe times have changed. Maybe the bar is higher now.