In one of my favorite episodes of Mad Men, ad whiz Don Draper is accosted in an elevator by an underling who took umbrage that Draper, his boss, passed over his work. The upstart vomits up his dismay and at the end of his little tantrum he whimpers emotionally, “I feel bad for you.” Draper, unfazed, doesn’t even make eye contact as he casually waltzes off the elevator.
“I don’t think about you at all,” he effortlessly utters.
That’s how we feel about you, Saints fans. Despite all your lathered-up taunts and emotionally charged bluster, other than eight quarters a year when we play you in the regular season, you hardly even exist to us. Quite simply: we don’t even think about you at all.
But here we are at the end of the season and this game actually, astonishingly, means something. We are sure you enjoyed your time at our new Mercedes-Benz Stadium which, you have to admit, is a total architectural marvel compared to your Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which looks like a spittoon with a microwavable bowl on the top. Didn’t go so well for your last game, did it? Well, don’t get all bowed up about your chances on this game, either. It’s just not in the cards for you this year, no matter how many Bounty-Gate schemes you are surely up to.
Let me guess—I know, I know. It’s on the tip of your lips. It’s been there since you read the first words. You can’t wait to say it. In fact, it’s probably something you silently whisper to yourself late at night as you cry yourself to sleep staring at the popcorn ceiling in your apartment. Say it loud, say it proud: BUT WE WON A SUPERBOWL! Yay! And by the way, we don’t hate; we were happy for you guys. But, Jesus, you guys cling to the Lombardi trophy the way Tom Hanks clung to Wilson in Castaway. I’m guessing many of you probably even talk to your little replica trophies the way he talked to the beachball. Seriously, we’re all a little worried that it’s the only thing keeping you all from going completely insane.
Now don’t get me wrong, I, personally, love all your silly slings and arrows—the Falcons Superbowl choke memes, the 28-3 Jazz Fest flags and all those snarky tweets. I really got a chuckle out of some of those, and sorry to tell you, their desired effect actually backfired and they ended up being sort of therapeutic. But after the millionth one, I had this stunning revelation: underneath all that snark and mirth, the reason for your collectively compulsive fixation with Atlanta is so crystal clear to me now.
Here it is: You all have an inferiority complex the size of Lake Pontchartrain. And it’s really a shame, because New Orleans is a swell town. I have partied and befouled the Quarter like everyone else who comes to town. But I get it. Deep down, it’s not, nor will it ever be, a glorious and flourishing city like Atlanta—no matter how many Whole Foods you get.
Atlanta is a thriving, pulsating, evolving economic juggernaut—and like the Falcons, our best years are still ahead of us. How many Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Crescent City? Two. Atlanta? 16. Last year, a study ranked Atlanta fifth in the country for retaining its college graduates into the local workforce. You guys? Second to last for brain-drain. We have even eclipsed Louisiana for #1 for filming movies and shows in our fair state. And let’s also face it: this is Drew Brees’s last hurrah. Matty Ice has at least four to five more runs in him, starting with our march to the Big Game this year.
Aw, come on, cheer up, Saints fans! Mardi Gras or one of the other multitude of mindless excuses to revel is just around the corner, so you can drink your NFL cares away! Laissez les bons temps rouler, right? Your acceptance of Atlanta’s superiority should ease your Falcon-hating obsession so you can switch over to hating the things normal rednecks with no future prospects hate.
So, clutch your little Superbowl Trophy-shaped rabbit's foot or whatever superstitious Voodoo contraption and say your Hail Mary’s. We get it—it’s tough to live in a second-tier town with a third-rate team.
Ultimately, Saints fans, it is we, the Falcon Nation, who feel sorry for you all (in the rare occasion that we think about you), not the other way around. We know that anyone who ties their “everything” into a sports franchise—their self-worth, their self-esteem, and their civic pride—the fact that you have fastened all that by rusty steel chains to your beloved Saints … well, gosh, we feel bad for you. To your fragile egos and your tender insecurities, we say, keep those hilarious memes coming—and we hope they are a salve for your tormented souls.
We’ll see you Sunday when we stop in to scoop up the NFC South division trophy. Until then—we’ll be thinking of other things.