There is nothing more frustrating to a sports fan than being bombarded with ridiculous theories explaining the success–or failure–of a certain player or team.
Enter ESPN’s human-interest machine Rick Reilly, who unveiled the strange idea that Saints–like, you know, actual Saints–influenced the Colts’ play-calling and caused Reggie Wayne to play what was probably the worst game of his career.
According to Reilly and many others, it was destiny that lifted the Saints football team to unprecedented heights.
A more plausible theory would be that Harry Connick Jr. paid Wayne to throw the game.
I just can’t understand this notion of destiny. Was it destiny that caused a hurricane to ravage New Orleans? No, it was favorable weather conditions and a city constructed well below sea level. Was it destiny that Peyton Manning would lob a pass into the hands of Tracy Porter? No, it was a bad read and a really bad route.
The idea that a sports team can save a city is beyond idiotic. Sadly, this idea has been around for years, and until Sunday was last brought up during Michigan State’s improbable run to the Final Four in the Motor City last March. The Spartans defeated three No. 1 seeds to earn a berth in the Title game, which caused the national media to practically crown Tom Izzo as Pope Tom I for saving the city of Detroit from its economic plight through a “basketball bailout” of sorts.
The Saints delivered joy to a region starved for it, but a Superbowl victory won’t bring jobs, improve the levee system and certainly won’t raise the struggling city above sea level.
So why are we so eager to attribute success to destiny?
It’s human nature to want happiness for the less-fortunate; call it karma, poetic justice, or…destiny. When something magical happens, like a small-market mediocre franchise suddenly rising to the apex of the sports world, we feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We try to explain these things by calling it a miracle, a stroke of luck, or in some cases as an act of God.
Now for a dose of reality: Drew Brees is the most underrated player of my generation. Sean Payton is a terrific coach who will always be remembered for calling that onside kick to start the second half. The Saints are loaded with talented receivers, three quality running backs, and an opportunistic defense that improved throughout the season. That’s not destiny–it’s reality.
The Saints won because they played the better game. It’s just that simple. Move over destiny, you need to make some room for delusion.