NFL Kickoff: A Football Orphan Finally Has a Team

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This NewsFeed writer's newest fashion muse.

Five weeks ago, I asked for your help finding a team of my own. After careful consideration, taking into account your tweets, Facebook messages and good old fashioned conversations, for the first time since I was eight years old, I have a team to call my own.

But first, a look at a couple of runners up. Denver Broncos fans were quick out of the gate and passionately pushed their team. Fueled by a quarterback controversy that seems to have settled itself, the Broncos fans were perhaps the most active ones I saw on social media these few weeks. Alas, last night was tough for the Broncs, losing to a 63-yard field goal. I wish the Broncs the best this season.

(MORE: Missing Manning: Three Lessons from NFL Week One)

The team that had the most votes was easily the Green Bay Packers. The defending Super Bowl champs have a passionate following, and the Cheeseheads lobbied hard for the boys in green. One of the questions I asked was “Why do you love your team?” The Packers fans had some of the best answers: because it is truly a hometown team; residents of Green Bay are the shareholders; generations of families have braved tundra-like conditions, often shirtless, to show their love in the late season and the playoffs. Packers fans have my respect, and unless they are playing my team, I’ll be pulling for them on Sundays.

Throughout my search, I noticed two themes about why we love the teams we do. First, it usually starts and ends with family. I turned my back on the Cowboys because my father did all those years ago, and neither of us have looked back since.  Second, loving a team allows us to be part of a greater narrative. We’re connected with a story that started before we were born and will endure, hopefully, after we are gone. When my father loved the Cowboys, it was because of Tom Landry, a champion, but more importantly, a good and decent man. And it hit me–the answer has been under my nose for a long time.

(MORE: How to Make Football Safer)

In the 1971 draft, the New Orleans Saints picked Archie Manning, a Heisman finalist and hero from neighboring Mississippi. He held nearly every Ole Miss record and was more recognizable than the governor. Manning was the perfect quarterback to turn around the flailing ‘Aints and lead them to glory. But over the next decade, the fairy tale died. The Saints only reached .500 once; fans often wore paper bags over their heads at games.

Yet, Archie Manning played through injuries and the insanity of the organization, having some of his best years late in his career. In 1979, he was the NFC MVP and a Pro Bowl selection when the Saints went 7-9. He made the Pro Bowl again the next year when they went an even 8-8. “Somehow the dream has never died,” Sports Illustrated‘s Paul Zimmerman wrote in 1981, “and that is surely the most incredible part of the story of Archie Manning.”

The Manning legacy would, of course, move to other teams in the form of Peyton and Eli, and the Saints went through many more years of turmoil. But a prediction Archie Manning made in 1981 came true. “Can you imagine what our place, the Superdome, would be like if we were ever a winner?” he asked. “They’d blow the lid right off the place. Nothing could hold a candle to it.” And when New Orleans needed it, they did just that. Five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, the 2009 Saints marched through the playoffs and won the Super Bowl, defeating Peyton Manning’s Colts.

So for me, the Saints are the total package. Sure, fans didn’t show much love to the ailing ‘Aints in the ’70s, but the guys in the stands with bags on their heads were at the games, and they never stopped coming. Though he only led them to one winning season, Archie Manning personified what is good about sports. And most importantly, my sister, my biggest fan and most vocal critic, is a die-hard Saints fan. She went to college in New Orleans and married a guy from Metairie. Every Sunday, she dons her Deuce McAllister No. 26 jersey, even though he has long since retired. Thanks to you, who helped me realize what we love about football, now I can wear Archie Manning’s No. 8 Saints jersey and join her.

VIDEO: 10 Questions for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

9 comments
martymcfly16
martymcfly16

Unlike the commenters here - I completely agree. I went in excited for a new kind of monster movie - one that didnt write off being a quality film because, as one commenter put it, its a "fun" movie. Fun movies and smart, well-written, movies are not mutually exclusive - Shaun of the Dead springs to mind. Godzilla was not a fun movie. It was boring, poorly written, and felt like it had some great ideas that the writtens never got around to finishing.

Also - I find it absurd that a creature that runs around demolishing cities while being shot at by tanks would notice a soldiers radio going off mere moments after being bombed. It'd be like me hearing an ant knocking over a grain of sand...and then deciding to eat that ant because, well, f*** that ant in particular. 

Maybe its my fault for having lofty expectations but I went into this movie REALLY excited and I left...meh.

jloggers
jloggers

Weta Digital?? The Moving Picture Company Richard, not Weta

AlienSharkBoy
AlienSharkBoy

Richard needs to stop writing reviews... he's quite easily the worst "professional" film critic around.


Basically, if he says a film is bad, then you know it's good.

SophieTrainor
SophieTrainor

The title character was actually created by the VFX team at MPC who worked with Gareth for more than 2 years as lead VFX house on the movie....

windog
windog

I've never been provoked to respond to a review, but I completely disagree with yours. I thought 'Godzilla' was absolutely thrilling. The screening audience I saw it with clapped and cheered throughout the last half of the movie. It was insanely fun. Not sure what you saw, but I saw the movie I've waited to see for 40 years. It's the closest thing to "Close Encounter of the Third Kind" that's ever existed. I'm going again Thursday evening and I'll probably see it again this weekend. I value your opinion, but I'm totally baffled by it. 'Godzilla' is brilliance.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

No matter what, it can't possibly be dumber than Pacific Rim.

MikeCanada
MikeCanada

"No statue has ever been put up to a critic." - Jean Sibelius


Dude, it's a monster movie.  Why do critics going to a fun movie always expect Hamlet or Othello?


I've watched a few so-called "critically acclaimed movies" from time to time and most of those films are worse than an ice cream brain-freeze.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

@MikeCanada He wasn't expecting Hamlet. He was expecting a good monster movie, like the trailers suggested, and was disappointed.