So my Saints travel to Soldier Field this weekend to take on the Bears. And while fans may think there's not much bad blood between the teams, history says otherwise.
No, Saints fans don't loathe Chicago like they do Atlanta. And yes, we are a forgiving fan base. But don't be fooled. Here are three reasons Saints and Bears fans have beef (and I'm not talking about the Italian variety).
Bears fans were blessed with 1960s and 1980s Mike Ditka. Saints fans, on the other hand, were forced to suffer through what Ditka has referred to as "the worst three years" of his life.
Where was that 63.1 (106-62) winning percentage he accumulated with the Bears when he took over New Orleans? And it's not like it would have taken much to woo the fan base—he took over a team whose record was 3-13 the year before.
But instead of seizing an opportunity and pulling out a few eight- to 10-win seasons, he went 6-10 two consecutive years and traded away an entire draft (eight picks to be exact) for an underperforming running back. There was nothing Ricky Williams could do in his career that would have justified that trade.
Then there was that time he posed for the cover of ESPN The Magazine with Williams—in a wedding dress—making us the laughingstock of the league.
Those picks he traded eventually accounted for 15 Pro Bowl appearances and 10 All-Pro selections. And let's not forget one of those picks, cornerback Champ Bailey, is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame once he retires.
Thanks, Coach. Thanks for nothing.
The date was Jan. 21, 2007.
The only thing standing in the way of New Orleans' first Super Bowl in franchise history was a team that hadn't seen the big game itself in 21 years.
It was ugly. The Bears scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, beating the Saints 39-14. But the game was only a fraction as bad as the fans' behavior.
Saints fans dodged snowballs (yellow and white) with batteries inside during a game that was out of hand in the second half.
And the signs … oh, what creativity Bears fans put into them.
The Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, Deadspin and other media outlets ran a photo of Bears fans holding signs that read "Bears Finish What Katrina Started," "In the flood, Noah saved the Bears, not the Saints" and "Ride your boat back to New Orleans, Katrina victims."
I can take the alleged throwing of beer cans. I can also bite my tongue and ignore the alleged profanities directed at young New Orleans fans. But Katrina signs, really? Way to make Philly and Oakland fans look civilized.
Fact: The Saints play in a dome.
Fact: The Bears don't.
Fact: The Saints' outdoor record against the Bears is dismal.
The Saints like playing in the comfort of the Superdome. Heck, they're 5-2 all-time against the Bears there. But line them up against Chicago outside, and it's a recipe for disaster.
The Saints are 7-12 against the Bears when the teams meet outside the Dome. Whether it's Soldier Field, Tulane Stadium (where the Saints used to play), Tiger Stadium (LSU's home field) or Memorial Stadium in Ohio, the poor Southern boys just don't perform well in the elements.
Which brings me to my final fact: Sunday's game is outside.
Jay St. Pierre is a RedEye designer. @jaystpierre
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