As Meaningless As The Pro Bowl Is, It's Impossible To Come Away From It Feeling Anything Less Than Fantastic About The Saints' Future
I'm well aware that a conflict-free Thanksgiving doesn't necessarily make for a flawless meal, so the fact that the New Orleans Saints, by all social media accounts (there are wayyyy too many to post), are one big, happy family doesn't guarantee they are going to eat as well next year as they did this year.
That said, it's tough to temper expectations for a season that might well be six years away when the seats at the head of the table are being filled by a bunch of players amongst the very best at their respective positions who appear to have a genuine love for another. The Pro Bowl itself couldn't mean less, but being largely represented by a group of players that has no reason to believe they won't repeat acclaim-worthy performances absolutely does.
The sentimentality surely kicked into overdrive with SuperFan JJ and the Brees' boys taking full advantage of a Saints' heavy event, but - unless Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are Oscar-worthy actors - there is just too much cohesiveness amongst a relatively young and insanely talented group to feel anything but unbridled optimism as it pertains to their immediate future. The fact that you couldn't really say most of those things about Saints' teams in recent years is obviously a nod to winning making a hell of a cure, but it's also a credit to a group of guys whose egos ran secondary to success.
A 'Hall Of Fame' quarterback that's already pledged his continued allegiance to New Orleans, a defensive end whose a candidate for DPOTY, a record-setting wide receiver that - as of this weekend - owns the title for 'Best Hands', a shutdown corner that's nearly a lock as DROTY, a selfless two-headed running back tandem that features the likely OROTY and whose mutual success was unprecedented in the age of color television, and an offensive lineman so good that he managed to avoid falling victim to the Saints free agency curse. Somehow, I came away from this weekend thinking the most likable thing about that group is that they - along with their head coach - looked as though they would be having just as much fun in each other's backyards. That alone won't win them any Super Bowls, but the efforts that got them there just might.