Missing from the 2010 offseason for the New Orleans Saints?
Well, actually being off. And honestly, why would you WANT to flip the switch after you win a Super Bowl -- particularly in a success-starved NFL region like the one New Orleans services.
Certainly, it's not unusual to see the megastars like MVP Drew Brees and Jeremy Shockey making high-profile appearances all the way up until training camp eve.
But witness the trickle-down effect too for the game's flashpoint cult heroes. Likeable guys like Thomas Morstead and Chris Reis, who came up on the business ends of the pivotal onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XVI, have taken the title to the people with a personal touch.
There's Morstead, shocking the world with the prescribed Holy Roller toward the unsuspecting Colts. There's Reis, the long-haired special teams ace, scrambling in the bottom of the pile and coming up with the ball. A few months ago, they were relatively anonymous role players.
Now these willing ambassadors are part of Saints lore.
"It's kind of an overnight sensation," Reis says on an April night while signing freebie autographs at Jaimie's Sports Cards of Louisiana in Monroe. "I went from a nobody to now; people recognize me. Because of my hair, they're making me on the street. It's humbling to be part of something so big, so great and so great for the city. It's been a blessing. Hopefully we can continue our winning ways."
It ain’t easy for a punter to show up on the highlight DVD. Yet who (dat) among us will ever forget the sight of Morstead jumping and signaling that Reis had recovered his onside offering.
"For me personally, my whole rookie season was special," Morstead says during a pause at the same Monroe event. "From getting drafted to positive moments where I helped influence the game, it was really a neat feeling for me."
Morstead's aunt and uncle, along with five cousins, actually live in Monroe. When visiting their home, he sometimes booms 60-yard punts down the street to the amazement of locals.
Keeping his leg under wraps back home in Texas, he blends in pretty well. Back in the Bayou State, it's another story. "It's crazy," Morstead says. "Whenever I come back ANYWHERE in Louisiana, everybody's still so high about it. It's been pretty cool. I was out in Monroe last night, and people were buying me drinks. It's pretty crazy."
At least Morstead was a recent draft pick with modest name recognition. Reis reminds you of Steve Gleason, another long-haired special teams demon from a few years back. Listed as a safety on the roster, the Georgia Tech product was originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2006. In 2007, he was toiling in NFL Europe for the Cologne Centurions.
Typically, only the diehards get this deep into roster recognition, but Super Bowls and super-charged moments change that. These days, folks line up to meet ‘em when given the chance.
"It's wonderful," Reis says. "You have fans coming up to you and saying 'Thank you.' These fans aren't looking for anything from us. They're just thankful that we were able to do something so great. We won, but it felt like we won for the city. To be able to give back to the fans is just awesome."
Says Morstead: "People are always trying to get stuff signed or take pictures. It doesn't get old. To me it doesn't. I think it's cool. These fans have been living and dying with this team. Well, they've dying for a long time. Living with them now, it's cool to be a part of it."
They get it. Morstead isn't too far removed from lean years of his own at SMU.
"I went 1-11 my junior year and 1-11 my senior year in college," Morstead says. "To go from that, -- to winning the Super Bowl?"
Believe me, we understand.