Saints still use bat as motivator for big games, including Saturday

Saints still use bat as motivator for big games, including Saturday

Credit: AP

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush (25) runs out onto the field carrying baseball bat for before the NFL football divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. Behind Bush is Deuce McAllister. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)


Posted on January 12, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 12 at 6:52 PM

Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
Email: | Twitter: @wwltvsports

METAIRIE, La. ― Six years into Sean Payton’s tenure with the Saints, you’d think the concept of the “bat game” would have gotten old.

That it would have lost its luster.

Apparently, it hasn’t.

Saturday in San Francisco, the Saints (13-3, 1-0) will take part in their second bat game of the postseason, playing at the NFC No. 2 seed 49ers (13-3, 0-0) at 3:30 p.m.

“I think the guys, it’s like almost like a lucky pair of socks going into a big game,” Saints defensive back Leigh Torrence said. “Guys rally around it. It’s just a part of our culture here, a little bit of a tradition that we enjoy.”

The Saints have already had several bat games this season, including the Nov. 6 home game against Tampa Bay and the Dec. 26 home game against Atlanta.

Both, by the way, were big Saints wins, the game against the Bucs not only avenging an earlier loss to them but starting what has now become a nine-game win streak.

The most famous bat game likely is New Orleans’ 2010 playoff opener against Arizona, when running back Reggie Bush darted out of the tunnel, holding the bat up high.

New Orleans won that game 45-14.

This week’s bats were delivered Thursday just before the team left the facility for its flight to the bay area. Inscribed on the bats is the game, the playoff round and the date.

For most, it’s just a reminder of what’s to come.

“It really just brings to the forefront what everyone is already feeling,” Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “This just symbolizes everything that everyone is already thinking about the game. You have it here etched in wood and you go from there. Everyone knows it has got to be physical, it has got to be one of those type of games.

“But you bring it out to the forefront and you let it be known.”

For both Torrence and Vilma, the bats are currently just resting at their houses.

When they’re done playing, however, they’ll be reminders of what they’ve been a part of.

“It’s one of those things while you’re playing, you really don’t get a chance to look at but certainly is going to be something that I’m going to look back on some really good times here part of this Saints team,” Torrence said.