NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 23: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates during the first half against the Pittsburg Steelers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 23, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

There was a time when my dad took me to Saints games in the early 80’s, when there was no Who Dat Nation. In fact, reality did bite back then. Sure there was excitement in that era but not exactly on the football field.

There was ‘Crazy George’ beating the drum and yelling catchphrases that did catch on. He was the unofficial cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints back then. Of course, he was one of many. Additionally, the curiosity ran amuck of how a picture of a scoring play sailed down a long steel wire down to the Saints coaches. Never figured out where those exactly came from.

The carpet inside of the twists and turns of the dome became filled with disappointed fans that walked out after multiple losses. There were so many bright colors with stripes that all of us had to walk down to get home. It was the herd of the faithful. The ones that kept going week after week. And the Saints would never improve for a generation at least.

Honestly, there were times that watching the black and gold back then was like a dentist appointment. We had to go, but the pain was going to come afterward.

Perhaps many of today’s younger fans are clueless. And perhaps the tough years for them were the 7-9 years. Recently, there were three in a row. Ironically, I was somewhat lucky to start following the Saints around 1976. The Saints won eight games twice up until 1987. Let me say that again. The Saints went 8-8 in 1979 and 1983. Those were the good times as a kid.

It took over 20 years to get a winning season in 1987. But keep in mind, at the time, it couldn’t get any better. For years, the fantasy of making the playoffs only existed between the ears. The Saints made it and my teenage years were still evolving. Starter jackets popped up and Cavaricci pants were the emblem of royalty.

Supposedly, my family went to the same church as the Manning’s but I was never really paying much attention. But after 1987, God gifted New Orleans and the dream became reality so it seemed.

Fast forward to 2018. The New Orleans Saints have earned the number one seed for the duration of the playoffs. Hooray! There are videos out there with dancing! People are singing hallelujah! The joy of winning should have us all in a jubilant mood for at least till mid-January. The NFL Divisional Rounds get started. What an achievement for a team that kept underachieving for years.

Everyone must be happy. Right? Being 13-2 coming into Week 17 has to make grandma and Who Dat Nation euphoric. Surely, there is still work yet to be done. The Super Bowl is the ultimate goal for this year. Of course, that is still the plan. One game at a time for sure. Still, there seems to be a part of the fanbase that isn’t at all content. “What about our offense Dean? When we hit the playoffs we have to be better.” This comes from the media, family members, and the crickets.

Seriously really? Make no mistake, there are places to improve. Injuries are definitely a concern. But good God, this is the time to enjoy. Put the holidays aside for a moment. Who knows the next time this happens. It’s been 10 years since home field advantage has been clinched by the black and gold.

Stop pouting and enjoy the ride. And remember the journey of not only this year but countless fans that have gone before us. Home field advantage back in the ’80s was having your shoes stick to the dirty beer remnants from the era of awful years. The ‘Dome Foam’ hasn’t changed that much, with the exception of the price. Relax….It’s OK to feel the happiness now. And be glad that you didn’t have to suffer through this in your lifetime.

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View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: The 2018 New Orleans Saints: Never Forget the Journey From Godforsaken Misery