Last Sunday, the Saints lost their NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams. No – they didn’t just lose. They had victory stolen right from their hands.
By now, even non-football fans are well aware of the infamous non-call by NFL referees that changed the outcome of the game. It’s been all over the news and social media. It’s been made into many memes. But what’s been viewed as a joke by many represents absolute heartbreak to the people of New Orleans.
It’s not as if Saints fans are unfamiliar with losing this particular game. After all, they had victory within their grasp last year, too, only to trip at the proverbial finish line in their NFC Championship game against the Vikings. But this year was different. This wasn’t a botched defensive play – this was a missed call. It’s not only crystal clear that Rams DB Nickell Robey-Colemen committed pass interference – he’s openly admitted that he fully expected to be penalized for his actions.
Then, the NFL admitted they messed up.
“It was simple, they blew the call.”
Saints head coach Sean Payton discusses the explanation he got from the officials about the controversial pass interference no-call. pic.twitter.com/nCCFqFmF5N
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 20, 2019
But of course, it was all too little, too late. The Saints are out for the season, and in spite of fan’s petitions, owners and politicians calling on the NFL to invoke Rule 17, and plummeting Superbowl ticket prices, it’s unlikely that the NFL will change the game’s outcome or allow a rematch to take place.
Already we’re beginning to hear that Saints fans are using the missed call as an excuse. That people are tired of hearing about it. And of, course, that Saints fans are far too invested in their team.
Of course. Of course Saints fans are invested in their team. It’s impossible to live in New Orleans and not be invested in the Saints.
How else can you view players who came (or came back) to a city not just to play a game – but to help rebuild?
Where else can you find football players who have million-dollar contracts voluntarily collecting trash on their day off with a wide smile on their face?
— L. Morrow (@LARRY_MORROW) January 15, 2019
New Orleans is a city of struggle. Her people fight daily uphill battles against corruption, systemic racism, and larger public perception that depicts us as lazy. Every day, residents fight against growing violence and gang activity. And of course, every year we face the possibility of fighting against nature herself.
For the people who live here, the Saints are something of an embodiment of those struggles. That’s why when they do well, the whole city feels more hopeful. When they lose, we all feel it. And when they are cheated, it’s personal to all of us.
Some have said that Saints fans who live in New Orleans are too psychologically dependent on the team.
There’s a psychologist on the radio right now saying that Saints fans are too “psychologically dependent” on the Saints….
For New Orleans, the Saints aren’t just a football team. They’re a symbol of the city herself – both her triumphs and her struggles.
So yes, it’s personal.