Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
NEW ORLEANS -- I saw this week it’s the 10th anniversary of ex-Jet’s coach Herm Edwards famous
media meltdown and then I realized it was 25 years ago last week when Jim Mora had a post game rant that changed the New Orleans Saints forever.
On October 25,1987 NFL players had just returned from striking and the Saints lost to San Francisco 24-22. No real news there as the Saints hadn’t had a winning season in their franchise’s history.
Jim Mora, in his second year as head coach, got asked in the post game press conference something about if losing a close game to the 49ers proved the Saints were a quality team and had a shot at the playoffs. What happened next is easily one of the most important moments in team history.
If you are under 35 understand the Saints before 1987 were not only the worst NFL team they were arguably the worst professional sports team in America.
They were known for two things; they had never had a winning season and Saints fans wore paper bags on their heads to show their disgust with the team.
Jim Mora changed the course of the franchise in 58 glorious seconds when he unleashed what is known to any Saints fan that remembers it as the
Mora’s rant basically described perfectly the angst and pain Saints fans had felt since New Orleans received a professional football team. The Saints hadn’t ever done anything significant as a team and as Mora said, “ Close don’t mean #$^& and you can print that for me.”
I was 12 at the time and can remember watching it on the news and my dad saying, “Well either Jim Mora is going to get the Saints winning or go completely insane. The Saints don’t just drive fans crazy they do it to their own coach.” Lucky for us it was the former.
Can I prove Mora’s rant directly helped change the Saints from losers to winners? The next week they beat Atlanta 38-0 and didn’t lose again for the rest of 1987. Maybe they would have gone on a winning streak without Mora’s post-game tirade, but history doesn’t work that way. History says the Saints were 3-3, their coach melted down in glorious anger, and they won nine straight.
When the rest of America thinks of Jim Mora they think of his ‘Playoffs’ rant, Saints fans should remember he had a better one 25 years ago that changed football in New Orleans forever.
Yeah this column is about something from 25 years ago so what? I’m old. All you people under 30 will eventually be too.
Sean Payton sabbatical spot of the week: Romania
Since it’s Halloween time Sean can head to Transylvania in Romania if he wants have some scary fun. Bran Castle is one of the most popular tourist sites in Romania. It was built in the 14th century and is said to be the residence of the fictional character Dracula. Of course if Payton wants to have the you know what scared out of him he could just watch the Saints defense play Monday night.
Last week: 3-2
Philadelphia (+3) at New Orleans: After watching the Saints for seven weeks I’m convinced if they play any playoff quality teams they aren’t winning and if Drew Brees doesn’t play well they won’t even be competitive. The good news is the Eagles don’t fit into that category.
Philly was thinking of benching Michael Vick because they rank only 28th in points per game. Of course the Saints defense is the miracle drug of the NFL because they cure any problem your offense may have. If Michael Vick can’t carve up the worst defense in NFL history then the Eagles are really hopeless and Andy Reid’s days as their coach are numbered.
This game to me goes one of two ways. Either Vick looks spectacular and on Tuesday everyone is saying Philly is back and ready to make a second half run or Drew Brees looks fantastic, the Saints defense forces a couple Vick fumbles, and there’s a 50% chance Reid gets fired Tuesday. As much as it pains me I’m guessing Vick will be the NFC offensive player of the week.
Atlanta (-4) at Dallas: One of my Twitter followers summed up the Cowboys perfectly by calling them version 2.0 of the Jim Haslett Saints. Endless Buffoonery. They have just enough talent to lose in grand style. Tony Romo will gift wrap this one to the Falcons late.
Miami (-2.5) at Indianapolis: Since my wife is a Dolphin fan she is really excited that Ryan Tannehill might end up not being horrible. She may have to retire her Dan Marino jersey if Tannehill proves competent.
Cleveland (+3.5) vs. Baltimore: Shhhh. Don’t tell anybody in the media because they love John Harbaugh but the Ravens are old and done and Joe Flacco is terrible.
LSU PICK ALERT
LSU (+9.5) vs. Alabama: I think the media is selling LSU short in this game. Zach Mettenberger has been mediocre at best and Alabama looks like a killing machine but I think everyone hasn’t let go of the National Title game. Yeah the Tigers got rolled but Saturday night won’t be the same. Every game is different. I’m convinced we’ll know within two offensive series if LSU has a shot in this game. It will obvious real quick if Mettenberger is up to the challenge of handling the biggest moment of his career. I think he’ll be ok and Les Miles will pull out a few tricks to try and create a wave of emotion from the Tiger Stadium crowd. I think Mettenberger will have a chance late to win it but come up just short.
Somebody needs to throw a monkey wrench into Nick Saban’s joyless march to a second championship in a row. I love the entire Les Miles experience. He may think the IRS will charge him a timeout tax if he doesn’t use them all in the first quarter, his offensive philosophy sometimes make you believe he views the forward pass as a fad, but his website creates preview videos incorporating the Iron Man trailer and I can’t help but love the guy.
Miles line after the Tigers beat South Carolina of; “Death Valley is truly a place where opponents dreams come to die.” was my favorite thing to come out of a winning coach’s mouth ever. I want to pick LSU it’s just if I pick them I’m basically expecting something out of Mettenberger we’ve yet to see. If you predict things that have never happened to occur you usually are wrong, LSU keeps it close but falls short.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.