On a dreary and rainy Sunday afternoon in St. Charles Parish, regular patrons, hardcore fans, and casual fans alike gathered at Sport's Pub in Destrehan to cheer on the New Orleans Saints in the biggest game of the 40-year franchise.
With every TV tuned to the NFC Championship game where the Saints were about to face the Chicago Bears on historic Soldier Field, fans trickled in with only minutes remaining till kickoff.
It was eventually standing room only by game time with a sense of restrained jubilation from everyone inside the establishment.
A flurry of fans decorated in white, black and gold, including the bartenders, comprised the crowd that were eager to watch the Saints play 60 minutes of football that meant a trip to the Super Bowl for the winner, a game New Orleans has never played in.
"It's surreal," was one of the comments heard from passers-by. "We're gonna toast that Bears team," was another. Some were more nervous than overly optimistic.
"I've never been more nervous before a Saints game," said pub regular Bradley Clark, donning a black Saints replica jersey and hat to match. "It's unbelievable that we're in this game but I'm nervous."
Turns out he had the right to be. The Bears gave the Saints their worse and final loss of a Cinderella season that was thought to be destiny by many of the black and gold faithful.
They may have been right about the destiny part, just unfortunately wrong about the team.
Clark did everything a fan possibly could to help the Saints to victory he thought. He even turned down 50-yard line seats for the Saints divisional playoff matchup against the Eagles the week before so the Saints would win. His reasoning? He's never been to a Saints game where they won.
"I figured I was taking one for the team," Clark said.
As pregame ended, everyone stood for the broadcast of the national anthem and cheers were loud throughout the bar when the ball was finally kicked off to the Saints' Michael Lewis.
Throughout the first half, the tempo was mostly in Chicago's favor which calmed the crowd. Amazing plays by Saints rookies Marques Colston and the electrifying Reggie Bush revived the bar until Chicago took complete control in the second half.
It was evident long before the end of the game it was not the Saints year after all, and the Bears were going to win, but many stayed to watch the end.
Some were planning on watching the later game, hoping that at least New Orleanian and Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning might get a shot at what Saints fans will have to wait until next year for.
"We'll be back next year, there's no doubt about it," said fan Michael Herschel. "This was not a one-time deal. I really think we put together a great team. It's been a great ride at least."
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|SAINTS RULE. Bradley Clark and David Robin show off their tattoos.|