There is a photo of me when I was five or six years old at an art show holding a rock.
The photo actually appeared on the front page of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.
What’s so special about a kid with a wry grin, cutting his eyes at the camera while holding a rock?
On the rock was painted, “Our Archie, That’s Who!”
I don’t remember exactly when I first started watching the New Orleans Saints, but when I look back at that photo, I know it was a long, long time ago.
And in those days, it seems all we had was hope.
Being a Saints fans in this part of the country is akin to being a Red Sox fan in New England. The difference being the Red Sox have actually won seven World Series titles.
While the Saints are being called America’s team these days, they have always been Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama’s team.
I can remember back when my father would take the family out on Sunday drives through the Delta.
My mom would fix a cooler full of sandwiches and chips and drinks, and we would ride the roads of the flat land and listen to the Saints games on a Drew (Archie’s hometown) radio station.
Those were the days of Archie and Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath and Wes Chandler.
Later, it was the Dome Patrol of linebackers Ricky Jackson, Vaughn Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling.
Yeah, the Saints were bad a lot of times, but there were times when there was real hope.
When Archie was QB, there was the season back in the late ‘70s when the team went 8-8 and just missed out on the playoffs. The team had four or five near misses and could easily have been one of the two or three best teams in te NFC. Manning was also the offensive Player of the Year that season.
While they never went to the Super Bowl, for a wide-eyed Delta boy that lived and died with every snap of the ball, Archie and Saints were a thrill a minute. And we had hope.
So, this week, as the current edition of the Saints make their maiden voyage into the Super Bowl against Archie’s boy, my mind’s eye takes me back to my youth when winning would have been great, but the experience of being a fan with hope was just as good.
Yes there will be a winner and loser this week, and our Saints are underdogs as they have been for their 43-year history.
But, from where I am sitting, that’s not such a bad place. It’s a place we are familiar with. And we have hope.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.