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Not everyone is happy for the Saints

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I am scheduled to fly to New Orleans on Thursday to judge the finals of the Tulane Sports Law Moot Court competition. What a time to go – smack in the middle of the Who Dat Saints winning it all and Mardi Gras. I wonder if I’ll find a town that’s hung over from the Saints’ Super Bowl victory or just revving up for Mardi Gras. The answer, of course, is both.

The Saints are the winners, no doubt about that. They’ve survived every test and done so with some financial challenges as well, which I’ll detail in my next column.

However, there are many who have to be feeling sick about Sunday night’s result, mostly due to their own mistakes coming back to bite them at the hand of Drew Brees(notes) and the loveable Saints. Those feeling ill as a result of what happened last night include:

The Colts

Of course, they did not play badly, and in one of the most tired phrases uttered, they played well enough to win. However, that “well enough to win” would be for a regular-season game against an average opponent, not well enough to win against the Saints. Pierre Garcon(notes), you cannot drop that pass, not on that stage against that team. Hank Baskett(notes), you cannot whiff on that onside kick. Again, the norm for the Colts is that those kinds of mistakes can be easily overcome by the greatness of Manning, but not against the opportunistic Saints.

The Vikings

They outplayed the Saints two weeks ago and lost. They possess a superior defense to the Colts, a reason I picked the Saints to win. The Vikings also played “well enough to win” but also did just enough to lose, as did the Colts. Although it sometimes comes off as disrespecting the winner, the truth is that most games are lost rather than won. With credit to the Saints, the Colts and Vikings lost those games as much as the Saints won them.

The Dolphins

Drew Brees wanted to be a Dolphin, but it was not mutual. As much talk about the “calling” he felt from New Orleans and the wonderful things he’s done with the city, he preferred Miami to New Orleans when he was a free agent in 2006 after being shunned by the Chargers in favor of Philip Rivers(notes). Coming off a serious shoulder injury, Brees was put through an exhaustive medical exam and by the Dolphins, who chose Daunte Culpepper(notes) and his balky knee over Drew and his shoulder.

Culpepper played four games for the Dolphins, who have invested in older veterans (Trent Green(notes), Chad Pennington(notes)) and consecutive second-round draft picks (John Beck(notes), Chad Henne(notes)) with limited success. Now they watch as Drew Brees – whom they could have had at hello – wins the world championship on their home field.

Jim Irsay

Irsay publicly proclaimed that he would make Peyton Manning(notes) the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL. That bravado sounded bold in the midst of the recent love fest for Manning. Now, not as much. Manning is still deserving of eclipsing his brother and Rivers’ recent extensions but will now have his 9-9 postseason record brought up when that deal, which may approach $50 million guaranteed and $140 million total, is negotiated. The lavish deal will also take place against a backdrop of ownership grumbling about player costs rising much faster than revenues.

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