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NEWORLEANS-- It has become a tradition over the years, but this season, it's bigger than ever.

When the Saints return home from road games, thousands of fans line the street leading away from the airport to greet the team. In this undefeated season, with each win, the crowds keep growing.

For the players, it's an unbelievable scene.

'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh -- I mean, that is crazy,' said defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove. 'You know, you're sitting in there, and all I can do is sit there and smile and want to clap their hands.'

Running back Reggie Bush said the throngs of fans waiting at the airport help encourage the team.

'When we get that type of response, it just makes us want to go out there and play harder for them,' he said.

The last two times the Saints returned home, however, the enormous crowds raised security concerns as fans jockeyed to get as close to the action as possible.

'We had to do some logistical moves,' said defensive back Jabari Greer. 'We had to make sure that everybody was okay, and that we weren't putting any fans at risk with our cars.'

Sunday night, Kenner Police put out barricades to hold fans back, but the crowds managed to get around them. Officers scrambled at times to keep fans away from the coaches' and players' vehicles.

'We don't want somebody walking out in front of a car. We don't want somebody you know, getting dragged by a car, and then yes, we don't want somebody jumping on or in somebody's automobile,' said spokesman Lt. Wayne McInnis.

Officials plan to meet with the Saints this week to determine how many officers they'll need at the airport next Sunday when the Saints return from Tampa Bay.

With more wins, police expect the crowds to grow.

'We have to have that fine line between the safety of both the people out there and the players out there,' McInnis said.

Officials say they haven't had any major problems though, and for Saints players, the trip home after road games has become another key ingredient in this 2009 season.

'They're waiting for three hours just to see us -- to come out there and just see us, not talk to us, just see us, and scream and hoot and holler for three hours,' Hargrove said. 'That is beyond passion. That is love. That is, I don't know what that is. It's beyond words. I mean, and I appreciate everything they've done for us.'

Greer agrees.

'This is why we play the game, for the fans, and the fanbase that we have is unlike any other city,' he said.

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