It may be underrated nationwide, but make no mistake about it, the rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints is as nasty as any in pro sports, maybe sports period. Put quite simply, there may not be two fan bases that hate each other more than the Falcons and Saints.
What started as an innocuous rivalry between two awful franchises who essentially knew that their best chance for satisfying victory every season lie with each other, has developed into a full on 365 day a year cacophony of vitriol, disdain, and pure disgust.
For each person they have a different reason and story for when the hate truly blossomed from a healthy dislike mixed with a tiny bit of compassion into a full-blown disgust for anything relating to the other. I know the very date for me, I know the very place I was sitting, I know the very company I was with, and unfortunately, ESPN likes to constantly remind me of it on a regular basis. Not to mention, so do Saints fans.
You could add up my hatred for the Busch boys, for Jim Leyritz, for the Yankees, the Gators, and the Cowboys, and you’re still essentially putting Pluto next to Jupiter when you compare it to the level of contempt held for the Saints.
I had my hatred for this team, this city, and this state confirmed a couple of weeks ago. I decided to dine at Just Loaf’n. I went due to the fact that there was a scout mob for it, and I’m a cheap bastard. Additionally, in a cruel, cruel twist of fate, and quite possibly God’s cruelest joke on me, cajun food is my absolute favorite cuisine. It’s really not fair.
But I digress.
In any event, I walk into this little restaurant and proceed to the counter to make my order. I’ve never had a muffaletta so I decided this place had the look of something resembling authentic cajun food, so that’s what I ordered. Of course they have no muffaletta bread. So, still trying to stay in the spirit of true cajun food, I order the alligator po’ boy. And of course, they didn’t have any alligator.
So here am I at the counter, my first two options not available, and I’m thinking to myself, “this is why I hate New Orleans”. And if any of you have seen me in a drive through, or at a restaurant when a waiter to comes to take my order, you know I absolutely hate making on the spot decisions about food when I feel rushed. So, it’s safe to say, at this point, I’m not in a very comforting situation. So I make a hurried decision and go with the basic shrimp po’ boy. I’m flustered at this point, so I just out of natural reaction, hand my card over to the lady behind the counter.
Forgetting to use the scout mob. Which was the only reason I’d have set foot in what is turning out to be a truly God forsaken place.
But it gets worse. Upon paying for my food, which was twice what I was expecting, I turn to the right, by the counter, and see one of the most awful creations in the history of man.
At this point, I’m like, “Okay God, I get the message, never step foot in New Orleans. I hate it. It hates me. We’re on the same page here”. But no, my punishment wasn’t over yet.
After the less than memorable meal, well memorable in that the special “cajun fries” tasted like they’d been reheated in a microwave, I went to the gas station next door to procure a Mountain Dew.
On Monday morning, while going to work, with said Mountain Dew in my bag, I noticed that my bag seemed to be leaking, and I couldn’t understand why. That is, until I opened and realized everything in my bag (and if you know me, you know I CANNOT STAND when my magazines get crinkled, much less wet, or soiled) was submerged in Mountain Dew. The plastic top to this particular Mountain Dew was punctured, and while laid on its side in my bag, the contents of the bottle poured into my bag, creating a small pond that goldfish could have happily survived in. If only because I assume swimming in a sea of Mountain Dew is a pretty awesome thing.
It took a matter of seconds to remember where I got this Mountain Dew.
Fuck New Orleans.
And while the Saints do have their ring, and I am happy for like one Saints fan on this planet for that happening, though, the joy is tempered the longer we go without one, we still have more wins in this rivalry (49-43), the longest winning streak (10) and the most lopsided victory (55 points). We’ve also won three of the last five and are fresh off a sweep.
So, keep your bounty gate tainted ring New Orleans. When we get one, and we will, you can shut all the way up.
But before I conclude, I leave with you my 15 favorite games from this underrated, under appreciated tale of two cities.
- 1991 NFC Wildcard Game: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 20 in New Orleans – Denying the Saints their first playoff win another year, IN New Orleans?
- 1973: Atlanta 62 New Orleans 7 in New Orleans – most lopsided margin of victory in series history
- 1991: Atlanta 23 New Orleans 20 OT in New Orleans – It denied the Saints a share of the 2nd best record in the NFC, and set the stage for our beating them in the Superdome just one month later in the playoffs
- 2010: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 24 in New Orleans – Overtime games in this series will be the death of me, but overtime wins in their building give me life
- 1995: Atlanta 19 New Orleans 14 in Atlanta – Jessie Tuggle, “The Hammer” with an interception near the goal line to seal it. My first in person experience of the Falcons/Saints rivalry
- 2002: Atlanta 37 New Orleans 35 in New Orleans – New Orleans, meet Michael Vick
- 2008: Atlanta 34 New Orleans 20 in Atlanta – New Orleans, meet Matt Ryan
- 2004: Atlanta 24 New Orleans 21 in Atlanta – I was there for this one too when Vick found Crumpler in the endzone late for the game winning touchdown
- 1980: Atlanta 41 New Orleans 14 in New Orleans – Beating those guys by 27 in their building during the 1980 magical season? Yeah, c’mon with it.
- 1981: Atlanta 41 New Orleans 10 in New Orleans – Following that up by beating them by 31 the next year
- 1982: Atlanta 35 New Orleans 0 in Atlanta – second largest margin of victory in series history
- 1981: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 0 in Atlanta – the first of consecutive home shutouts against the Saints
- 2005: Atlanta 34 New Orleans 31 in New Orleans – Blowing the lead with 46 seconds left hurt, going down the field to reclaim it with :04 left was exhilarating.
- 2012: Atlanta 23 New Orleans 13 in Atlanta – national television defensive dominance of Payton and Breezy boy
- 2014: Atlanta 30 New Orleans 14 in New Orleans – Osi waving goodbye to the Saints while strolling into the endzone in their building to finish off the sweep? Give me more of that please.