Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Sean, I heard about Roger Goodell dropping something fierce on you when he laid out your yearlong suspension guidelines: No calls, texts, or any interaction at all with any Saints employee or anyone employed by the NFL. Tough deal.
This year Sean you'll be just like the rest of us, you'll be a fan.
If you follow the NFL rules for your suspension you'll be the most famous member of the Who Dat Nation ever watching games on Sunday from your living room.
You may have like 30 years of playing and coaching football but you have ZERO experience being a fan. I'm here to help you through it. I've been a Saints fan my entire life and some people have even called it unhealthy but all those were just dumb ex-girlfriends. Point is just like you consider Bill Parcells your football mentor you could consider me your fan consigliere.
You better take being a fan seriously, my friend. If you don't, the season will age you like a month in a desert. Don't believe me? Ask any Saints fan who watched every game from the Aaron Brooks Era. Most Saints fans might choose prison or a Justin Bieber concert over having to live through that again. Not good times.
The 2012 football season won't be anything near that bad but that doesn't mean it won't be bumpy if you aren't prepared.
You probably already signed up for Direct TV Sunday ticket. It's spectacular. I know you'll miss calling plays and running the Saints on Sunday, but you are gonna love watching all the games and getting the full Red Zone Channel experience. When they take you to Philadelphia you'll be thinking, Why did Andy Reid just challenge the coin toss? It's because Andy thinks the IRS taxes any unused challenges at halftime. And you'll laugh as he has that blank stare of a man looking into a freezer wondering why there isn't any ice cream. Is it as good as talking to Drew Brees on the headset? I've never done that, but I've laughed at Andy Reid's horrible game management for years and it is quite enjoyable.
One of the best things about being a fan is the hate. Now that you are a Saints fan seeing them win is the most important thing but a close second is watching Atlanta lose. I bet you only scoreboard watched during games the last few weeks of a season. You had games to win and referees to yell at so I'm not knocking you. Now scoreboard watching is a key part of you Sunday fandom. When you see the ticker say the Falcons are down 14-3 in Kansas City you can turn to the game immediately. Oh look, Mike Smith just went for it on fourth-and-two-inches from his own 15-yard line and Michael Turner lost 3 yards. You should probably set up a Twitter account and follow any fans of other NFC South teams so you can torment their fans immediately when they fail. Be discreet with you handle though, something like St. Bernard Sean should do. Celebrating other NFC South failures on the internet is underrated.
This brings me to the next part of being a good fan: Food and beverage. This will be the thing you'll like the best about being fan. When you were up in the booth against Colts last year you got caught chowing down on some nice Superdome concessions. Some people gave you grief over it, but you were hungry. I love eating during games, so I didn't judge.
Now you can eat and drink all you want! You thought having to decide whether to try a surprise onside kick during the Super Bowl was hard? Try deciding whether to go pizza, chicken wings, or maybe make some homemade gumbo. What to eat on Sundays in the fall I'd argue will be your most important decision on game day. A bad choice can ruin your entire Sunday and don't ever go fancy and exotic if you are having people over. During football nobody wants to be eating the lemon barbeque faux gras you saw Anthony Bourdain eat on 'No Reservations'.
As a life long Saints fan I can assure you there has been many a Saints head coach who wanted to drink during the game. Now you totally can! Only in moderation though, especially when the Saints have a late Sunday kickoff because there's nothing worse than drinking too much and being three sheets to the wind before kickoff arrives.
My last piece of advice on being a fan is to have someone designated as your post-game phone call. You'll be amped up over a big win or gut wrenching loss. You'll need to vent. My first post-game call is to my mom. She is really big on getting off the field on third down, penalties for too many men on the field or lining up in the wrong formation drive her crazy, and she believes every ref ever and the entire NFL hates the Saints and which makes any key penalty a conspiracy. Since you can't talk to an actual NFL employee and Bill Parcells will be busy working at ESPN I'd totally be willing to conference you in. She also hates Roger Goodell, so you two will have that in common. Hope this fanguide helps and welcome to our insanity.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, or follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough