As the 2023 New Orleans Saints’ season came to a close with the win over the Atlanta Falcons, so ended another season that started with hope and optimism but ended in the disappointment of another Saints-less postseason. Yet, for this writer, the circumstances of watching the final game provided some beneficial perspective and appreciation for where the franchise has been in its past and where it’ll hopefully go again in the near future.
You see, I had the fortune of taking in the final game in-person, which is a rarity since I live a couple states away from my hometown of New Orleans. And the perspective and appreciation came by virtue of having my mom with me, as she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year ago and wanted to attend a Saints game in the Dome as a bucket-list item of hers. My brother, who does live in town, said if I could get her down there, he’d handle getting tickets, so it all worked out and we found ourselves perched high above the south end zone for the season’s swan song. While I was holding out hope for the Saints to get the help they needed to sneak into the playoffs, and which I happily explained to mom on more than one occasion over the weekend heading into the game, I appreciated that she was just happy to be in the building, and all the more happy to experience the atmosphere and joy that the Saints delivered with the win.
From a Saints organization perspective, one can appreciate the fact that our “bad” seasons these days still generally involve being in the playoff hunt coming down the stretch, because as long-time Saints fans can attest, that certainly was not the case for most of the team’s history. That notion of appreciation even extended to the fact that I could feel reasonably confident that mom’s trip wouldn’t lead to watching a loss (not that I think she would’ve minded much), which, again, is a far cry from where the franchise was 20 years and more ago.
While it's entirely understandable that plenty of the fanbase isn’t thrilled that Dennis Allen seems on his way to another season leading the Black & Gold, at least with the offensive coaching staff shakeup, the offseason has already brought with it some of the changes that sure felt inevitable and necessary to get the team out of its current rut. For some folks, that will likely lead to renewed hope and optimism as we march towards the ‘24-25 season, and for my part, I’m going to take a cue from mom and try to appreciate where the team is compared to where they used to be and hope that the New Orleans Saints deliver more joy to their fans moving forward.