Jim Finks and his Pals watched the Saints win the Super Bowl
NFC Championship Game, January 18, 2009
Seconds were ticking away at the end of regulation, and Brett Favre went to the sideline to ask Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, “What shall we do?” Childress says “I don’t know. Let’s ask God.” So they quickly pray and a voice comes back: “Put twelve men in the huddle.” Favre runs back on the field with 12 men and gets penalized for illegal substitution. Favre again runs over to the sideline and says, “So what do we do now?” Again Childress looks to the heavens and asks, “God, what shall I do?” The voice comes back, “Tell Brett to throw that little pass across his body back to the wide side of the field right before he goes out of bounds.” So he does and the ball is intercepted. Now it is overtime, and right before the coin toss, Favre asks Childress, “Should I call Heads or Tails?” Childress again asks for divine help and again the voice comes back, “Call Heads.” They lose the toss the Saints score and win a trip to the Super Bowl.As Favre and Childress are walking to the bus, they decide to ask God about his ill-fated recommendations. God tells them, “Hold on. Hey, Finks, why did we tell them to put 12 in the huddle, throw the pass and call heads?” While Who Dat Nation is relishing its current willing suspension of disbelief, that story has as much substance
as any of the other miracles we’ve experienced during this most wonderful of all Saints’ seasons.
But some of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him know that the most believable notion is
the conviction that Jim Finks, the man who brought respectability to the New Orleans Saints franchise, is still up
there pulling strings. In fact, it is easy to believe that the most significant Super Bowl party held on Sunday was not in Washington,
D.C., or New Orleans or Miami but on a far higher plane.
While watching the game with my family, I imagined Finks, holding his trademark vodka on the rocks, a
“see through” in Finkspeak, welcoming a host of old friends to his own special Super Bowl party, held in a very
exclusive box suite somewhere far north of Sun Life Stadium.
The first guests to arrive were Pete Rozelle and his long-time broadcast coordinator, Val Pinchbeck. Steve
Stonebreaker showed up with Dave Whitsell, and Joe Wendryhoski came in carrying a case of beer and a bag of
Polish sausages and buns. Former Coaches Tom Fears and Dick Nolan arrived next, followed by Frank Warren,
Sam Mills and Dave Waymer of another era.
Another couple arrived and all heads turned, but Finks recognized them immediately. “You know, Hap, although it doesn’t exactly fit him, that black and gold beaded evening gown certainly befits
Buddy D, don’t you think?” Finks said of Hap Glaudi’s resplendent date.
“I t’ink da fleur-de-lis ear rings wuz a little over da top,” Hap said, as Buddy D posed for pictures. Almost all the invited guests had arrived when a gleaming white limousine pulled up out front, its angelic trumpets heralding the arrival of its passenger, former coach Hank Stram. “Hey, somebody tip the driver, will you?” Stram said as he smoothed his saintly new hairpiece into place. “God wants this buggy back by midnight!” Finks greeted each one warmly and directed them to their reserved seats in this most exclusive of plush box suites. The conversation was warm and the divine libation generated blissful stories of days gone by as each drew on their own experiences. Rozelle was pleased at the pre-game ceremony, especially the precision arrival of the four Florida Air National Guard F-15 Eagle fighter jets. Pinchbeck was more impressed by the fact that 50 Sony high-definition cameras would cover every angle of the National Football League’s championship game. “How many cameras did we have at the Colts and Jets game in Super Bowl III, Pete?” Pinchbeck asked. “Probably three?” “I don’t remember how many cameras we had, but I remember a 30-second commercial cost $55,000,” Rozelle responded, taking another sip of his Rusty Nail. “At today’s rate, that would get you six and a half seconds!” The game began, and it became apparent that both quarterbacks would enjoy maximum protection from their offensive lines. “Somebody’s got to bust through there,” former rush end Frank Warren pleaded, but former offensive guard Wendryhoski was defensive about his old position: “Hey, a good offensive line will always stop a good pass rush. There might not be a sack all day!” The Colts went up 10-0, but nobody at the party seemed discouraged, especially the host. “Just keep sawing wood, boys,” Finks said. “Just keep sawing wood.” The Saints trailed at the half, and the former coaches and players debated what the Saints could do in the second half to take the lead and hold it. Rozelle and Pinchbeck remained in their seats to watch the halftime show. “The Who is a nice touch,” Rozelle said, “although I wish they’d still use the kids from ‘Up With People’.” “Most of them have retired,” Pinchbeck said. “Or are in the choir up here!” Sean Payton’s decision to open the second half with an onside kick surprised two coaches in the group. Dick Nolan shouted to Tom Fears: “Did you ever have the rocks to do that, Tom?” “I had the rocks, but not the jocks,” Fears shot back. “Exactly what I would have done,” Stram said confidently. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma made a play, which prompted Warren to give Mills a shot. “Vilma almost looks like you out there, Mouse,” Warren said to Mills. “Same number, but two feet taller!” Mills smiled broadly, accustomed even now to remarks about his size. “Jonathan’s a player,” Mills said, “but he knows what you do off the field is more important than what you do on it. He’s getting involved with the Haitian relief effort, which makes me proud he is a credit to number 51.” The Saints offense picked up as they began to move the ball, almost at will, prompting Stram to chide his host. “This is just like stealing! Just what we did to your Vikes in Superior Bowl Four, right Finksie?” Finks took another sip of his see-through, and picked up the red phone on the cocktail table. He spoke a few words and then put down the receiver. “Hey, Finks, while you’re on the line order more kielbasa and beer,” said Wendryhoski. “We’re running low here.” The Saints took a 24-17 lead, but nobody was comfortable. All realized that the guy on the other side of the field, Peyton Manning, had played some heavenly football during the season himself, including a handful of come-from-behind victories. “Wished I’d played with his old man,” Whitsell said. “He’s a real credit to his family.” The Colts were driving deep into Saints’ territory with three and a half minutes remaining. The ball was snapped to Manning and Dave Waymer jumped up and shouted: “Jump the route, Tracey, jump the route.” Sure enough, Porter jumped in front of Reggie Wayne to turn the only interception of the game into a game-clinching touchdown, and the party erupted. All except Jim Finks, who sat there calmly with a knowing smile on his face. “You look like the cat that ate the canary, Finks,” Stram said. “You want to share something with us?” “I knew somebody on the Colts side would probably ask God what he should do, so I made another suggestion.” “Finks, does God really listen to you?” Stonebreaker asked. “Who do you think got Stram the limo?” Finks said as the clock ticked down, and the participants slapped each other’s backs, knowing that they all had contributed to that moment. Their New Orleans Saints were the world champions. Jim Finks held up his hand and got everyone’s attention for one final comment. “Piss on the fire and call the dogs, boys. Our job is done!”