2005 was unprecedented in many ways. The New Orleans Saints and the entire City of New Orleans were dealt a catastrophic blow from the levees' failure to hold back Hurricane Katrina's wrath. The team was left without homes, an arena, and the fans' exodus across the country.
NFL HELPED IN 2021, NOT SO MUCH IN 2005
The NFL failed to Saints organization was unable to remedy some of the logistical holes Katrina left in and outside of the Superdome. The current leadership team and communication with the NFL seem to be stronger in 2021. Contingency plans were mapped out by GM Mickey Loomis and HC Sean Payton before Hurricane Ida devastated the southern region of Louisiana with her heavy rains and 140 mph winds.
The Saints organization found cooperative NFL partners with Jerry Jones's Dallas franchise and Texas Christian University (TCU) to accommodate the team's workouts and practices in preparation for the season-opener after evacuating ahead of and since Ida's arrival Aug. 29.
Roger Goodell's schedule makers allowed New Orleans the input for which stadium the team would host the Week 1 tilt versus the Packers. It was a far departure from the league's horrendous scheduling efforts when they forced the Saints to host the Giants in New York on their home turf in Week 2 of 2005. New Orleans fell 27-10, and the season began to spiral out of control. They went 3-13 and selected No. 2 in the 2006 NFL Draft.
THE REST IS HISTORY
Some could blame the Saints leadership, NFL executives, coaches, and players, but for what reasons?
Over the years, quarterback Aaron Brooks received most of the blame from fans. I understood the logic. He was one player on a team of 53 men. Jim Haslett was in a pivotal year for his reign as head coach, and his staff had their sights on leaving for greener pastures. If you recall, Mike McCarthy became the Packers head coach over Sean Payton.
Fortunately for the Saints and fans, the Packers' decision to land McCarthy worked out perfectly. Tom Benson and Mickey Loomis quickly negotiated and signed Payton - then Brees and several critical free agents.
NOMADS, NOT VICTIMS AND REFUGEES
Today's New Orleans Saints are not homeless but temporarily displaced for another few weeks. The two road contests with Carolina and New England perfectly set up a Caesars Superdome clash with, that's right, the New York Giants in Week 4 on Oct. 3. The irony of Green Bay and New York being factors this time around.
The 2021 New Orleans Saints are built differently by Sean Payton. I agree with Payton from this week's presser when he spoke about 9/11 and the team's resolve. The relationship between the Saints and Who Dat Nation is intense, passionate, and highly compassionate for one another.
"TOUGHNESS" IS THE DIFFERENCE
The citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region resemble the Saints via 'TOUGHNESS." That's the word Payton used. I agree. We have been through the storms, trials, and tribulations. In the end, we stay positive and have a tenacity like no others in America. You will have your moments. That's true, but there's no other team like the New Orleans Saint and fanbase who could - please forgive the pun - "weather the storm" like they have and continue to do so.
The locker room leadership, coaching, administrators, owners, and supporting staff have a firm resolve. Three straight home games won't be an issue for the 2021 New Orleans Saints. They may bend but won't break. The captains Terron Armstead, Jameis Winston, Demario Davis, Cam Jordan, Malcolm Jenkins, and J.T. Gray are six main reasons why these Saints won't crumble under the pressure without being at home for a month. Most of all, I don't believe Sean Payton will allow it.
Will New Orleans win against an equally formidable opponent in Jacksonville this afternoon? I don't know.
Still, I don't expect they will give up the fight to Aaron Rodgers' Cheeseheads. The Jameis Winston era will commence. Sean Payton's genius will be tested. How will it all play out this Sept. 12 on the gridiron of TIAA Bank Field?
We shall see!
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