By Chris Kieffer and Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
LAKE CORMORANT – Daily Journal reporters Chris Kieffer and Galen Holley, friends, in theory, will be watching Super Bowl 44 with added attention. Kieffer grew up in New Orleans and has been a Saints fan since 1990, the year they lost to Bears 16-6 in the playoffs on the day he received his First Holy Communion. Holley lived in Indianapolis for three years, loading cargo in the ice and snow as the Colts marched triumphantly toward victory in Super Bowl 41. So before the big game, the two sat down at a remote location in DeSoto County, out of reach of the rabid media weasels and sports blabber-mouths, to discuss who would become the next world champion.
At the meeting, the two also made a wager: The loser will buy lunch for the winner at The Varsity Grille at The Mall at Barnes Crossing Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Noon. The loser will also wear the winning team’s jersey as a symbol of his shame.
Galen: The sporting press has used words like “surgical,” and “methodical” to describe how Peyton Manning dismantled opposing defenses this season.
That kind of reasonable, scientific language means something for a game in which people are falling in love with dreamy-eyed, poetic terms like “destiny” and “karma” to try and convince themselves the Saints have a chance to win.
Chris: Say the name Az-Zahir Hakim to a Saints fan and an image will immediately come to mind. A Rams wide receiver fumbling a punt to give the Saints their first playoff win in the team’s 34th year of existence, and play-by-play radio announcer Jim Henderson exclaiming “There is a God after all!” For Saints fans, love of the boys in black and gold has gone beyond football so you can imagine what its been like nine years later when the Saints did something their fans had dreamed about for decades. When Garrett Hartley’s 40-yard field goal sent the team to its first Super Bowl, Henderson, who has a knack for saying what we are thinking, exclaimed: “Pigs have flown. Hell is frozen over.” If you think New Orleanians know how to celebrate for Mardi Gras, some little festival we throw every year, imagine what we’ll be like during a party we’ve been planning for 43 years. You better believe that energy will carry over to the boys on the field.
Galen: The Mardi Gras mentality is mighty fine, don’t get me wrong, but live by the sword, die by the sword, and life, much like football, isn’t one big party.
The Saints rely too much on emotion and crowd euphoria to stoke their fires. Down in Miami, they won’t have that thunder dome full of revelers deafening the opposing team.
A Super Bowl champion has to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and convert a few third downs – and run between the tackles, Reggie.
Chris: Walk through the valley of the shadow of death, in Miami? The Saints have already won in Miami, scoring 36 second-half points to beat the Dolphins in their own stadium 46-34 back in October. New Orleans has won every road game its tried to win this season. Our mojo extends well beyond the Crescent City.
Galen: Both teams proved that resting players pays off. Note to Mercury Morris, taking the detour onto your block wasn’t out goal, baby. Methinks that Dwight Freeney’s ankle doth trouble my sleep, but, alas, there are more strange side bets than you’ve dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio, such as who will score the first touchdown and whether you’ll take the over or under on Brees throwing for three hundred yards.
Garcon and Collie will plague the Saints’ defensive backs early, and Dallas and Reggie will be lurking, waiting for the fleur-de-lis boys to realize they can’t double team everybody.
Chris: Garcon, Collie, Dallas, Reggie? To paraphrase Jim Mora, a man both franchises know well, “Weapons? Weapons? You talking about weapons?” We may have renamed our city Drew Orleans, LaBREESiana, but we go much deeper than a QB. You’ve got Colston and Shockey up the middle, Devery and Meachem going long and Reg-gie finding seams. Scheme against the pass and we’ll gash Pierre “Tres Bien” Thomas and Mike Bell through your flanks.
Galen: As I type, Kieffer is taunting me, showing a YouTube video of a 10-year-old Peyton, wearing a Saints’ jersey, playing football in the yard, whining and bossing everybody around. Peyton is that quintessential Southern sportsman whom we all know – cautiously humble, perhaps a little too serious, a guy who sees football as a metaphor for life. This is the next milepost in a personal mythology that he’s been constructing since childhood, and he’s not going to be denied this victory.
My prediction: He will throw for three touchdowns and 350 yards. Colts win 31-24.
Chris: Move over Peyton. It’s time for a new legend to Brees his way into the record books. Darren Sharper and Jonathan Vilma will be the difference makers by forcing key turnovers. It’s a Black and Gold Super Bowl. Saints 41, Colts 35. Indianapolis: COLTS (Count On Losing The Superbowl). Who Dat!
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