The highly anticipated game of the 2022 season for the New Orleans Saints will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Of course, that will happen when the Cincinnati Bengals visit New Orleans.
That was assured when the NFL announced the Saints would play the Minnesota Vikings on October 2 in London.
It’s a bad news and good news scenario.
The bad news is that this is a Saints home game, so New Orleans loses a Dome game in a year that will see the Saints have their ninth home game, after only seven last year due to Hurricane Ida.
The result is just eight “home” games in 2022, and of course, with the odd number of games (17) now being played with an alternating year format for nine home games, New Orleans will end up hosting eight or fewer of their 17 regular games for three consecutive seasons, as will be the case in 2023.
No doubt the NFL and the good folks in London will throw a good party and treat the “home” team well, 4,624 miles from home.
No doubt many die-hard Saints fans will make the nearly 10-hour flight, which will of course be longer via a connection. The NFL is making a pool of tickets available to New Orleans Saints season ticket holders.
No doubt the Saints will show up and play hard.
No doubt the season will disrupt Church plans.
The Saints will play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time after playing their previous two regular-season games at Wembley Stadium.
London has been good to the Saints, who have won both previous games there, beating the Chargers 37-32 on October 26, 2008 and beating the Dolphins 20-0 on October 1, 2017.
The Saints have a long history of playing abroad, and it’s a winning history, with New Orleans going 5-0 unbeaten in those contests.
The Saints are 3-0 in preseason games played abroad.
In those preseason games, on August 5, 1978 in Mexico at the Estadio Azteca, New Orleans beat Philadelphia 14-7.
My sister danced for the Saints back then and my parents went with us.
It was a financial failure and the Saints even had trouble flying into Mexico City.
On August 5, 1990, the Saints traveled to London and defeated the Raiders 17-10.
My wife was dancing for the Saints at the time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, clearly winning her “dance-off” with the Raiders dance team.
On July 31, 1993, out of the country, the Saints played the Eagles again, facing off at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, and the Saints won 28-16.
The fact that New Orleans are playing 5-0 abroad is certainly good news.
So does the fact that the Saints are now allowed to host the Cincinnati Bengals in New Orleans.
The Bengals are a hot commodity, having won the AFC last season and narrowly lost in the Super Bowl.
The Bengals have the lame “Who Dey?” Chant, a poor stepchild of the original “Who Dat?” chants of Saints fans taking off from high school games in 1970s New Orleans.
The Bengals have tremendous local star power that will make the game the toughest ticket of the season for any Saints game and one of the toughest and most expensive tickets of any regular season game in the 2022 season.
Former LSU star and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow returns to New Orleans.
Former Archbishop Rummel and LSU star and Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase comes home to New Orleans.
Vonn Bell returns to New Orleans, where he played efficiently for the Saints from 2016-19.
So does Trey Hendrickson, who blossomed into a real NFL star in 2019, in his fourth and final season with the Saints.
Former Redemptorist High (Baton Rouge) and LSU star La’El Collins returns to New Orleans.
Former LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss was set to return to the state where he played for the Tigers.
Former Notre Dame High and LSU star Tyler Shelvin returns to Louisiana.
Former Tulane star Cam Sample returns to New Orleans where he played for the Green Wave.
Former Evangelical Christian and Louisiana Tech star Trent Taylor will return to his home state.
While the Saints are clearly infatuated with Ohio State players, Cincinnati is clearly infatuated with LSU players, with five current Tigers on the roster.
The Saints of Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and now Dennis Allen have picked seven buckeyes in the draft in 17 years.
Remember Antonio Pittman in 2007? The fourth-round pick didn’t make it, largely due to the emergence of undrafted free agent and future Saints Hall of Fame inductee Pierre Thomas.
Malcolm Jenkins made the first round in 2009 and played here until 2013. Jenkins returned to the Saints in 2020 to end his career here.
Michael Thomas and Bell advanced to the second round in 2016.
Marshon Lattimore got into the first round in 2017.
In the second round, it was Pete Werner’s turn in 2021.
Now Chris Olave is coming as a first-round pick this year.
Then there’s the saga of Eli Apple and his bunny ears, another former Ohio State player who played for the Saints.
Those ears will be hearing from Saints fans more than the bunny can possibly handle in a city he’s publicly mocked after failing to make a name for himself as a member of the Saints.
New Orleans fans will no doubt greet their former Saints players and former LSU players warmly enough, if not very warmly, at least initially.
New Orleans fans will no doubt greet Apple as he says.
New Orleans fans will no doubt travel to London for a “home game”.
It just won’t be anywhere near the number that would do so at home in the Dome.