The Saints and their fans are soaring
The text messages and e-mails began pouring in right after 9:10 p.m. ET. Right after Drew Brees threw that "Can you believe he's that wide open?" touchdown pass to Devery Henderson that set the stage for the rest of the New England Massacre. They all said basically the same thing.
Now do you believe?
It wasn't that I didn't believe -- I've believed since they posted 31 points in the first half of their third preseason game against the Raiders. That's when I originally got on board. But still, my people in New Orleans weren't hearing it. All they heard was my voice on "First Take" on Monday, saying this would be the game the Saints finally lost. Somehow they missed the fact I also said I thought the Saints would make the Super Bowl. That didn't count.
Now is it time for you to believe?
Kordell Stewart believed. So did Peter King. But the texts and e-mails were not about jumping on the bandwagon -- they were about the unconditional respect this team deserves from someone who used to live there. From someone who should have known. For years, the Saints have been the only thing that's given New Orleans hope. Even before Katrina.
Yes, the city has a basketball team, but the Hornets are new to this. With the Saints and New Orleans, it's been a marriage not even Chicago and the Cubs can comprehend. So deep, it's bottomless. It's deeper than any words in a column or a Leigh Montville story. But not deeper than the words I received from my people in NOLA during the game Monday night.
Now can you finally put Drew Brees in the MVP conversation? Now do you believe that Gregg Williams is the best defensive coordinator in the NFL? Now can you admit that Darren Sharper should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year over Jared Allen? Now do you believe that this team has something very special going on? Now do you believe in the magic?
The messages came from friends, family members, former running buddies, ex-girlfriends, ex-I-wanted-them-to-be-but-they-never-were girlfriends, former roommates -- even dudes whom I still don't like and who still don't like me, who all still live in New Orleans. One after another after another.
One friend who was at the game said that her "heart couldn't take it." The magnitude of the game was too large. She sent that text only once. After the second quarter, all of her texts were along the lines of "Oh my god!" She was too immersed in realizing her team is really that good for her to text "OMG" -- she needed to type it in full.
Then there was my guy for life, Flea. The chain of messages between the two of us about the Saints extends back to early November, but came back to life after Brees said what no other Saints fan was feeling after the game: "This game doesn't entitle us to anything."
Flea: (Nov. 3, 2009, 3:45 p.m.) 1985 Bears 2009 Saints Both on a mission.
Me: Yeah, but the Bears completed theirs.
Flea: When we beat New England in four weeks everybody will believe.
Flea: (Nov. 30, 2009, 11:27 p.m.) WHO DAT!
Me: Who Dat!!! Say what?!?!
Flea: If Drew Brees ain't the leading MVP candidate something is wrong.
Flea: Has a team ever had the offensive and defensive MVP in the same year?
Flea: Perfect passing rating 158.3!
Flea: All we need is for Brett Favre to act like he is 40. LOL.
Flea: Like I said, '85 Bears we are on a mission!
Which brings it all full circle. The Saints are 11-0. With the show they just put on against the Patriots with one of the biggest games in the franchise's history behind them with no team on the rest of their schedule even close to being in their class with the Super Bowl a very realistic possibility.
Now do you believe?
If you don't by now, something's wrong.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.