Several months have passed since we witnessed the infamous non-call in the NFC Championship Game. In a critical moment, the referees swallowed their whistles and let an egregious case of pass interference go uncalled. It's a call that, had it actually been made, would have put the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. I was at the game and saw the pass interference clearly... from the other side of the field. The next morning, we were still in the Big Easy and could feel the weight of that no-call with everyone we came across.
Most of us Saints fans have since moved on. We can laugh about it now, or at the very least, enjoy commiserating together over a shared experience. When my wife and I saw Michael Buble' in concert a few weeks ago, he went into a bit of a monologue about how the city has suffered so much, and yet its people are so resilient. He then added: "And I'm not talking about hurricanes, I'm talking about that sh*^ call in the NFC Championship Game." If he'd made the same joke six months ago, it would not have been quite so funny.
Fast forward to last week. The Saints opened up their preseason with a game against the Minnesota Vikings. Preseason games are notoriously not that interesting. You're watching to see if your team will have any breakout players, and while everyone likes a win, it's not important. And yet, the game received a 40.0 rating in New Orleans. Basically, 40% of all households were watching the game. Most of the rest had probably gone out for the night, because Friday. It's a lot of viewers, but the numbers are really astounding when you compare to to the ratings for the Super Bowl.
After the no-call in the NFC Championship Game, fans of the New Orleans Saints found other things to do on Super Bowl Sunday. They certainly didn't watch the game, because the snoozer between the Rams and Patriots only got a 26.1 rating in New Orleans. You read that right: the ratings for last week's preseason game were 53% higher in New Orleans than for the Super Bowl earlier this year. One game mattered, one game didn't matter at all. But a whole lot more people watched the meaningless game.
It's been several months since what became #BoycottBowl happened. As a proud member of the WhoDat Nation, I'm over it and have moved on to a promising 2019 season. I really am over it! But those preseason ratings brought a big smile to my face. Because Saints fans are passionate -- passionate enough to be the #1 market for a preseason game, and passionate enough to be the last place market for a championship game they believe they should have been in. That passion is undeniably what makes it fun (and sometimes miserable), and it's really why I love sports.
I hated that non-call. I hated that I was across the field and could clearly see the pass interference happen. But I love almost everything that's happened since. Well, not the lawsuits, those are ridiculous. But I loved the billboards, the party in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday, the obituary for a Saints fan determined to miss the Super Bowl, all those conversations with other fans, and now this exclamation point. We actually saw a preseason Saints game get way better ratings than the Super Bowl itself -- at least on the Gulf Coast.