Had the bad old days in the Saints history not produced so many discouraging, and in some cases embarrassing moments against the Detroit Lions, as a football fan in these parts you could almost feel guilty about the embarrassment of riches we now enjoy.

The 20-game history of the Saints-Lions rivalry had produced the benching of Bobby Hebert in 1989, Mike Ditka's first win in 1997, Jim Haslett's first game in 2000 - a loss.

But the most difficult game of all that I'll remember occurred on Christmas Eve, 2005. A 13-12 loss to the Lions was the fourth of a five-game losing streak to close the season. It was one of 11 losses in the last 12 games that season. It was the low water mark in a season of high water anxiety, and the most pessimistic perspective on the future of this football team and the sodden city in which it was unlikely to play much longer.

That last second 13-12 loss to the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve was the last game the Saints ever played in San Antonio as refugees from Katrina. As we made our way home from San Antonio through Dallas to New Orleans that night amidst the joy and excitement of other holiday travelers, we could hardly share their levity and wouldn't have ever wanted anyone else to share our burden.

For most all of us as Saints' fans, members of the organization, and citizens of New Orleans, I can't imagine a bleaker, less joyous holiday.

But less than a week later, Tom Benson announced the team would return to Metairie in the New Year. To what, no one knew, but for what, everyone did.

They'd return to pick up the pieces, to rebuild, to repair and to re-new our hopes for our team, our city, ourselves and each other.

Could even the most optimistic among us among us have envisioned the building that we will return to for the next home game this year, the day after Christmas when the Saints host the Falcons on Monday Night Football...envisioned the city and the citizenry that have re-built, repaired and renewed themselves in its shadow?

It's a building that will house the LSU Tigers on January 9, attempting to become unbeaten national champions. It's a building that will quite likely host the New Orleans Saints trying to begin another playoff run toward a second Super Bowl world championship in three seasons.

If you ever needed reaffirmation that this is the season of miracles look around at what was, what is now and what could be.

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