The Art of Choosing a New Orleans Saints Jersey 2012
What does your jersey say about you?
A year ago we brought you our inaugural “Art of Choosing a Jersey” column. It focused on the very quaint problem of how to distinguish yourself from bandwagon fans. After 2009, the New Orleans Saints underwent the Pink Hat Effect. Bandwagon fans came out of every swamp and creek bed donning spiffy new jerseys and an unabashed ignorance of Saints history. In their minds, the Saints had always been winners and Drew Brees was the quarterback when the team began. Now I don’t mean to bash the bandwagon—we all have to start somewhere—but don’t want to be perceived as a member of it either. Last season, when a Saints fan was wandering the street in his proper black and gold, he had to stare strangers in the eye and be able to answer this simple question without saying a word:
“Were you a fan before?”
The weight of this question grows as with your distance from New Orleans. I, a resident of Washington, DC, need people to know that my fandom runs deep. My answer, of course, was to create a list of the very best jerseys that flaunted this fact. The simple idea was to find a jersey that was both instantly recognizable to real Saints fans, but unfamiliar to a fan of any other team (or a bandwagon fan) would have to swivel their head to read the nameplate. You wear this jersey with the pride of a liberal arts major’s favorite indie band because you knew their name before it was cool. But see, the times, they are a’changin.
After an offseason of turmoil, weighty accusations, and Sean Payton’s sabbatical, I’m pretty sure we’ve shaken off any loosely-aligned souls left from the Super Bowl party. I tried to recreate the indie jersey theory (we were going with Robinson, Morestead, Moore, Galette, and Collins in case you were curious), but it didn’t seem right. We no longer need to answer one question, but an entire series of questions from everyone we see:
What are you going to do now? Can you win without Coach Payton? How could you support cheaters? Will the offseason ruin you? Is it finally the Atlanta Falcons’ time?
The question may vary, but the tone is consistent. And how do we answer these questions? With the immortal words of Captain Mal Reynolds:
The Alliance said they were gonna waltz through Serenity Valley and we choked ‘em on those words. We’ve done the impossible and that makes us mighty. Just a little while longer. Our Angels are going to be overhead raining fire on those arrogant Khangs. So you hold. YOU HOLD!
And with that, we are forced to recalibrate. No longer do we use our Saints knowledge like snide hipsters who have “discovered” some unpolished gem. No, no. Like the very team we cheer for, we must adopt the most battle-tested of motivational mindsets: It’s us against the world.
This year, when you’re rifling through racks of potential avatars, do yourself a favor: put down that Jimmy Graham jersey and grow a spine. From now on, when you throw on your gameday best, I want you to imagine that you’re going toe-to-toe with Goodell himself. You think he cares that you’re wearing a Lance Moore jersey? Hell no. But if he were to see you sporting the number of one of our fallen heroes, don’t you think you’re going to get under his skin? That’s right: our motto this year is defiance. We’re going stare the man in the eye and spit in his direction. Like. A. Man. So without further ado, here’s our 2012 Jersey Buying Guide.
Curtis Lofton (50) – This is a bold move, for sure. I generally don’t endorse buying the jersey of a man who hasn’t played a down of football for our team yet, but this is a special case. Curtis is the face of our post-bounty defense. If he puts up a Pro Bowl-caliber season for us this year (which is entirely possibly), that means you’ll have made a great pickup for the long term. And most importantly, you get to glare menacingly at every Falcons fan you happen across. You may not get Goodell’s attention, but you’ll have theirs. Make them rue the day they let Lofton walk.
Roman Harper (41) – Nobody on this Saints roster represents the unabashed aggressiveness of Gregg Williams’ schemes more than Roman Harper. Even playing safety, Roman led the Saints in sacks last year, and since ESPN has spent all summer replaying those sacks while talking about “bounties,” why not go out and purchase a 41 jersey, dye your hair white, and start acting creepily aggressive while watching Saints football?
Will Smith (91) – As I write this, it’s looking like The Fresh Prince might actually get his suspension delayed while the legal system tries to untie Goodell’s twisted half-truths. This makes for excellent news, both for our suspect defensive line and for anyone in the market for a jersey that reeks of a defiant Who Dat Nation. Will is a workhorse who, it seems Goodell claims, tried to kill Brett Favre on the field three years ago. We need to support him for that alone, right? (Isn’t that what the bounty scandal was about? Literally trying to kill Hall of Fame quarterbacks.)
Jonathan Vilma (51) – Here’s my pledge to you, our faithful readers: If I’m in a bar watching a game and I see a man wearing a newly-minted Nike 51 jersey (which means he must have purchased the jersey after Vilma’s sentencing), I am going to buy that man a beer. Maybe even pick up his check. It’s entirely possible that, if his suspension is upheld, Jonathan has played his last down of football for the New Orleans Saints. But the point is to make a statement and honor a man who has given a lot to the organization. Seriously, what more needs to be said?
Sean Payton (44) – You read that right: We’re advocating a custom-made Sean Payton jersey, and since you can’t have Roman numerals on your chest, we’re going with 44 (For Super Bowl XLIV, obviously). If you’re keeping up we’ve got the New Blood, the Punisher, the Captain, the Martyr, and the Mastermind. Each one shows your dedication to the Who Dat Nation. Besides, why are baseball managers the only ones that get to dress 20 years under their age?
(Bonus points if you get one of those Sean Payton masks from Fleurty Girl and yell “Do Your Job” whenever you want someone to finish their drink.)