At first the plans sounded exceptionally good. They were to spend the afternoon with friends at an Irish Pub in New York City while watching the Saints pummel the Carolina Panthers and feasting on fish and chips with cold beer. Well, at least the fish and chips, and the beer, were good.

     I had expected the pub to be crazy with fans of the Giants and Jets. Most of the TV screens were set on those games, but the fans sat there rather subdued. They know what bad seasons feel like, and they had the feeling. We, however, sat at a corner table where the big screen was tuned to the Saints game. While the Saints prepared we even had our own tailgate party; minus the tailgate, truck, barbecue and Hank Williams Jr. music. Our warm-up fare consisted of cheese sticks, onion soup and a salmon salad. Somewhere in the distance I could here Queen's "We Are The Champions" and with kickoff nearing we were still believing that, despite some bad moments during the season to date, a championship could still be possible. The first step would come today with an easy win over a poor Carolina team.

    Hopes were high. Then the game started. If only it hadn't.

     I have seen ugly Saints games before, but not one in the hallowed Payton-Brees era that turned ugly so quickly: two turnovers in the first three possessions. I had planned to order an Irish coffee at some point, but as a treat, instead it was for the jolt: "The Saints are only trailing by five touchdowns, anything can happen." By the early fourth quarter the couple that I had given my Saints tickets to texted me to say thank you very much, and they were heading home.

     If anything good could be said about the game it is that it was not one of those last minute heart breakers. This one was over before the first TV commercial.

     Nearby someone who could pass for the stereotypical little ol' lady watched the Giants playing the Tennessee Titians on another screen. "Eli Manning is having a great game," she exclaimed to anyone who would listen. "At least he is from New Orleans," I thought to myself. The Saints were being pounded but this was a victory for Newman High.

     One man who was heading out the pub's door paused long enough to get our attention as he unzipped his jacket. Beneath it was a shirt that said  "Carolina Panthers." Which raises the question: Besides being an insurance center, does anyone ever hear talk about Charlotte, North Carolina? It has to be one of the nation's most inconspicuous cities. Maybe the folks there need an occasional blowout for their team more than we do.

     With five minutes left in the fourth quarter we had paid our bill and were heading to the door. I did not want to see the post-game celebrating, especially when the wrong team was celebrating.

     Last week the Giants were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the, along with the Oakland Raiders, worst two teams in football. They must have felt as low as the Saints and their fans felt yesterday. But then they came back big a week later. Next week the Saints will be playing the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field on Monday night. I find it impossible to give up on the Saints, it is just that believing takes more imagination than it used to.