We’ve all heard the clichés that state that sports can sometimes transcend life and give people a winning spirit in what would otherwise be a miserable existence. We hear how these things that happen on the field of sports can change lives and provide inspiration for so many that needs a positive driving force to lead them out of dark times. This story is a testament to that cliché and how a previously unthinkable sports triumph uplifted me and provided me with renewed faith and the drive to overcome what seemed to me to be an insurmountable task.
I was born and raised in Biloxi, MS and just like many Biloxians, I was a huge sports fan. Biloxi is just a 60 minute drive from outside of New Orleans and because of this New Orleans Saints football is as big in Biloxi as it is in New Orleans. Of course, anyone that knows the history of Saints football knows that for most of the team’s history, it was considered the laughing stock of the NFL. The Saints were a teamed plagued by bad personnel decisions, injuries and just overall bad football, but we faithful were loyal to our Saints the all the tragedies and adversities that our team put us through.
I left from Biloxi in 1989 and moved to Atlanta, GA, but remained an ever faithful Saints fan. My aunt and Uncle were Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers fans and they moved to Atlanta shortly afterwards. It was my uncle and his son (who incidentally is an Oakland Raiders fan) who introduced me to gambling on games. I never really got into it seriously but every year starting in 2000, I placed one bet as a joke and never really thought much of it. I had a couple hundred dollars that I put into a betting account and at the beginning of each football season I placed a $20 long shot bet which I lost every year and said I would do this every year until the account was empty and then I was done.
Time went on and my support of the Saints continued. In 2008, the country was greatly feeling the effects of the economy and those of us vested in Gulf Coast had still never fully recovered from the financial disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was in 2008, that my company started to feel the effects of the economy. Lay-Off ensued and I escaped each round until July 2009, when I was told that I was going to be laid off. At this time, I had depleted most of my savings as some family and friends were hit hard by the recession and I was doing what I could to help them out. Just prior to learning of being laid off, I placed my ritualized annual bet. 3 weeks later, I withdraw the $120 that I had remaining in the account as I felt I would need it. Shortly after that, my accounts were drained as I was a victim of identity theft. I was now struggling to pay even the most basic of bills.
The Saints seemed to almost know my struggles and each weekend, I turned a blind eye to my troubles and watched the Saints get win after win after win. It was a magical season. The Saints were providing me with a single source of light in what was an otherwise completely dark life. My problems continued because like millions of others, I couldn’t find a job, but my Saints continued providing me with a little pleasure every week. Then on February 7, 2010, the Saints won the Super Bowl. It was an exciting night and bittersweet at the same time. Now the season was over and my sole source of hope and inspiration was gone, but I felt renewed because if the Saints could win the Super Bowl, I could certainly beat my situation. The game ended, but my Saints gave me on final present. Four days after the Super Bowl was over, I got an e-mail telling me to claim my winnings. You see I had forgotten that every year that bet that I made was for the Saints to win the Super Bowl and when I was at my lowest and needed it most, my Saints came through for me.