ARLINGTON, Texas — Roman Harper sat on a couch in the Saints locker room this week, barely paying attention to what was going on around him as he signed various objects.
When a reporter sidled up next to the couch, wondering if the safety had a moment to answer a question or two, Harper didn’t even look up, nodding yes.
His demeanor changed, however, upon hearing the second question, one about if spoiling the Cowboys season was a legitimate care for this team.
He looked up.
“No, because I don’t have anything personal against them,” Harper said, incredulous being the proper adjective for his tone. “It’s not about trying to ruin their season. It’s just about trying to go out there and win. It’s not about hurting their playoffs. I’m not interested in trying to play spoiler or anything like that for anybody. It’s more about us.”
With that, he looked back down and went back to signing.
While fans would be excited for killing the Cowboys’ (8-6) postseason aspirations in today’s noon game, that’s not in the Saints’ DNA and it’s not what they’re looking to do.
New Orleans (6-8) is turning within these next two weeks, trying to get back to .500 and end the season on a winning note. It’s not about Dallas and it’s certainly not about another team’s playoff push.
“No no no,” Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said. “I understand that might be the angle that a lot of people are going in. But we’re here to play football. We’re here to have fun. We have a lot of pride and a lot of fun playing this game with each other.”
While New Orleans is technically still mathematically alive, the percentage of possibility is less than 1 percent.
For many, this is uncharted territory.
The Saints haven’t been out of the playoffs before the postseason even started since 2008 and, in fact, only 15 players on the team’s 53-man roster were with the team at that point.
“You take the good with the bad,” right guard Jahri Evans said. “I think we learned a lot this year, learned a lot about our team and learned a lot about our guys and we’re going to learn in these last two games as well.”
It would be easy to look back and wonder just what happened after starting 0-4. But it’s not worth it, players said. Rather, the key now is working towards the future, putting on film play good enough to stay in the NFL in 2013.
“You’re showing how much you care about the team or how much you care about yourself as a player because the eye in the sky is going to capture every step you take,” Evans said.
Harper, still on the couch, didn’t think there would be any problems for the Saints as far as getting full effort.
“It’s just a little bit different,” Harper said. “But guys are still in it. We’re still locked in. we’re just all about improving ourselves.”