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Finish Strong... By Joey Chaisson

Well here it is 8:15 on the Monday following the Saints victory over the Vikings. I still feel extreme excitement, happiness, joy and the relief of the weight that comes along with being a true member of the WHO DAT NATION finally being lifted off of my shoulders. It's almost as if the sky outside seems a little clearer today, the air a little cleaner etc etc. I am going to attempt to capture my feelings before during and after the game.
Before the game started I must admit that sleeping wasn't very easy to do. Normally this is one of the easiest things in my life but thinking about what was ahead of me kept me awake. Wondering how our boys would play, wondering which feelings I would feel. Would I feel the feelings I have always dreamed of, or would I feel the feelings of sorrow that so many in the media were hoping we would feel.
It was only right that this game be played against Brett Farve, the one and only thing that could possibly steal from our spotlight would be Farve, one of the greatest qb's ever, who also happens to be one of the more selfish players in the game. Our media loves him and did not want his story to end. All week long all we heard was how Brett would win it, but what the forgot was how we never gave it to him in the first place.
I'm not sure if I have ever felt so calm in my life as we walked up to the dome. The excitement all around was at peak levels, as people had been partying for days, not to mention so many others have been waiting for this day since they were born. Sitting down in my seat to eat my nachos and drinking my root beer was an experience in itself. Some people may not know this but the plaza level will be gutted this off season and redone with new chairs and more seating. So I took that time to sit and remember all of the good times I have had in that seat, and also some of the bad times.
Before you know it, it's time for the kickoff and my heart is slowly starting to race. The energy by now has already built up inside of the DOME to extreme levels. People are ready for football, and so was I.
I remember thinking before this game that I wanted and hoped for a blowout because I didn't think my heart could handle watching a slug fest that went down to the wire. {please remember this line I will come back to it} Of course what we got was two heavyweights that were hyped up beyond belief. Two of the best qb's in football, with the two best offenses. The Vikes have one of the scariest defensive front four and our offensive lines is the best in football. Our defense creates more turnovers that any team in the league. What we got was an epic battle that will forever go down as an instant classic in NFL, and sports history.
There were so many moments during this game where I wondered if this was the moment that we would pull away or was it gonna be the moment where we had to start playing catch up. This feeling went on for 4 quarters and into overtime.
One thing I can remember is the true feeling that our team felt the passion pouring out of the crowd. Our team's moto this year was "Finish Strong". During the overtime, after Devery made a 3rd down catch and the play was under review to see if we made a first down or not, the crowd slowly started chanting "FINISH STRONG, FINISH STRONG" this chant grew louder and louder, and then started picking up speed until the whole DOME was screaming it. " FINISH STRONG!! FINISH STRONG!!" The review came back and we didn't get the first down which lead to coach P. going for it and then P. Thomas diving over the top for the 1st down. Finishing strong.
From the start of this game on down to the end, I seriously felt as if my head were going to explode. The drama was way to much for me after living almost 31 years and being a Saints fan as long as I could remember. There was no reason for me to quit now, and I wasn't going to. Head ache or not.
On the last play of the game the Vikes called a time out to try and ice Hartley. Everyone around me was in a mixture of excitement, and disgust. It was like someone took a blender and mixed all of our high and low experiences all into one long minute. The refs then signal for the the clock to run, Hartley lines up, I throw and arm around one of my best buds Brett Dawson. I feel other arms outsretched grabbing my shoulder and head. The kick comes and is then followed by one of the greatest outpourings of joy. An extreme release of pressure and pain that is quickly filled with relief and pure bliss. You could sell this feeling for thousands on the street if it were possible to bottle it up. The sounds in the DOME were screams, mixed with laughter, mixed with cries of joy, mixed with memories of pain, mixed with the sorrow that those that have that have left us can't be here to see this. The guy sitting in front of us was a very popular local sports radio guy in Baton Rouge named Jimmy Ott. He has sat in that seat for a few other big games. The Monday night game the Saints returned to the DOME against Atlanta. The Cardinals playoff game and now the biggest event to ever take place in Louisiana.... The NFC Championship vs the Vikings. He was so excited that when the kick split the uprights he actually jumped out of control fell back words over his seat and landed at our feet on the ground. He laid on that dirty floor, not because he was hurt, but because he was happy. Tears of joy...
If you are wondering if I cried.... I will tell you that very few in the DOME weren't crying. Tears started rolling down my face before the kick was even made. Not from joy, but from the pure concentration I was doing, the hope, the fact that I have never thought I would be so close to this moment and all that is stopping me is this field goal.The kick splits the uprights and I swear to all of you, at that moment I felt like I could fly. There aren't many moments available on Earth that can allow you to feel the way I did. This was one of them and to answer the question... Yes I did cry.. Tears started falling. The kick was made and Brett, Ramsey, Jimmy, the guy next to me, behind me, myself and many others all hugged and started jumping up and down and just letting out these spectacular yells, screams of joy. The whole entire DOME was going 100% crazy. There is nothing I can say, even video wouldn't do it justice. You had to be there. There was a reason why those ticket prices were so high, and the reason was the chance to experience something very very few get to experience.
The celebration in the DOME never ends, during the ceremony you can see Anthony Hargrove doing snow Angels in the BLACK N GOLD confetti. The fans and the players were all feeling the same way. It was like a dream, only it wasn't. It was real. It was real. IT WAS REAL!!!!
Leaving the DOME we were accompanied by endless fireworks on pretty much every street corner. Loud WHO DAT chants, chants of BLACK N GOLD Superbowl, We're going to Miami, Finish Strong and many others. People were dancing in the streets, on every street. The only sad faces around were the 2 or 3 Vikings fans walking around by themselves like they were lost. Which strangely enough, was exactly the same thing they were doing before the game.
We sat in traffic for about an hour to 1 1/2 hour. We didn't move because people were on top of cars dancing, hanging out of windows, dancing around cars.
When we were walking out of the DOME I was telling my friends Chris Wilson and Brett that I was praying that we blew these guys out. Now that I got to experience the game that we just witnesses, I told them that I couldn't imagine a better way to end our streak of pain. If we blew them out then it would have been a great experience that was spread out amongst the game, like the Cardinals game was. The overtime victory by a fg {which is what everyone hoped didn't happen given our history with kickers} captured all of our emotions and was given to us in one instant.
Win or lose I would have still been a proud member of the WHO DAT NATION. Willing to follow my boys, my team the SAINTS anywhere and through anything.
No longer will we hear haters saying "the aint's will never make it to the Superbowl" We will never hear opposing fans ask us how many times have we been to the Superbowl. There are a good number of people around here that will have to find something else to hate on because the Saints and the WHO DAT NATION are looking at those same haters with smiles on our faces that really translate into " GET A LIFE" Most people can think of something better to say but I know certain people that I know would rather me keep this rated G and that's exactly what I will do. Because we have class, we have faith, we have a team that is going to the SUPERBOWL. We were there to experience it.
One question that I have been asked a million times was " Why are you such a die hard SAINTS fan " Last night, being in that DOME, with a bunch of my boys, guys that I commonly share the same feelings with, last night, is what my answer to that question is. Last night is now the answer to any question thrown into my face because of someone else wanting to steal the small amounts of joy that we had before this game. The NFC Championship and Superbowl birth is why I do this. It's why we have always had faith.
There are a handful of moments that have given me similar feelings, asking Alli to marry me, our wedding and last dance, the birth of Cooper and seeing him for the very first time and now, seeing my team, in our home away from home the DOME, seeing them win to move on to the Superbowl in such a dramatic way.
The SAINTS are in the Superbowl. Try saying that. Try saying that a little LOUDER!! Enjoy this. We all so very much deserve this moment.
WHO DAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I plan on having a new article ready each and every Monday. Happy Mardi Gras!