Where do the New Orleans Saints go from here?

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As a football story, and as a football story alone, the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl win was a phenomenal story, because it took them literally 33 years to win a playoff game, more than a decade to finish a season with a .500 record, two decades to have a legitimate winning season, and over four decades to reach the NFL’s title game.

They were SO BAD for SO LONG, people really began to believe the franchise was cursed due to the fact they built their home stadium, the Louisiana Superdome, on an actual burial ground (the former Girod Street Cemetery). Maybe that’s why they wear all black, the color of death, each home game. And if you’ve ever sat through an episode of the reality series “Keeping up the Kardashians,” starring Kim Kardashian, ex-girlfriend to Saints tailback Reggie Bush- you’ve probably longed for the better predicament of immediate death.

But this year, the Saints have a totally different point of view. They’re top dogs, not underdogs now.

By Paul M. Banks

I caught up with Pat Swilling recently, and he talked about where the Saints go from here.

“It was just something you couldn’t imagine, we all wanted to win a championship, but we just never thought we’d get there. And we all felt, all of us older players, that we got there together and the organization embraced us, they invited us down, Ricky (Jackson) and Vaughn (Johnson) and it was just a great time. The city is still reeling over it,”

Swilling talked about how “Who Dat” fever overtook not just New Orleans, but the nation at large.

“People don’t understand that when the Saints win on Sunday, we win all the way to the next Sunday because the city is on fire, business is better, people are more jovial. And people around the country started to believe that this team has been through everything in the world, and now they have an opportunity to be World Champions and the next thing you know, it’s all united. The Saints right now are America’s team.

I was in New York City, for this college hall of fame event, I don’t know if you remember, Washington had us beat, but we won that ballgame and I heard people on Madison Avenue hollering who dat? So that tells you something.  New Yorkers hollering who dat? Unbelievable, all up and down the street. That’s how much who dat fever has grown all over the country,” Swilling said.

The window for another Saints world championship is wide open. The coaching staff returns intact, and the only major loss they suffered personnel wise is Linebacker Scott Fujita. That will hurt no doubt, but the loss was softened by the addition of speedy pass-rusher Alex Brown to the front seven. The key to the Saints becoming the first NFC South team in history to repeat as division champs is quite obviously the health of Drew Brees. There are plenty of weapons around him and there is no reason to believe the offense will suffer a major drop-off from the unit that led the NFL in scoring the past two years, and total offense three of the past four.

And the Saints should stay near the top as long as Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis continue to give Brees the pieces he needs around him. But it all depends on the Saints not getting complacent, and letting success go to their heads.

“I hope the players will let this go, they gotta let this go because the season’s coming up and every team in the NFL is going to be gunning for ya, because every season in the NFL is different, and my only worry right now is that they don’t let it interfere with this season. You are the Super Bowl champions, there is a difference,” Swilling said.

Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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