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John DeShazier: Thomas Morstead's parents putting up impressive numbers of their own

Mom and dad have been to every game of Morstead's NFL career


The consecutive games streak is so long, not much effort is placed into affixing a number.

"I have no idea," Isobel Morstead said.

With certainty, though, the NFL phase of it stands at 103 – that's 95 regular-season, plus eight postseason games – entering Sunday's regular-season finale for the Saints in Tampa, Fla., against the Buccaneers, which will lift the numbers to 96 and 104, respectively.

But, well, the number of consecutive games Isobel and John Morstead have attended so that they can watch their son, Saints punter Thomas Morstead, grow and develop into one of the best in the league, dates to high school.

"It's like a couple of years of high school, then college," she said. "It's quite a lot."

And it's not about to end this week, when the Saints (6-9) play Tampa Bay (2-13). Just as they have for the last 11-plus years – that's just accounting for when he played at SMU and with the Saints – the Morsteads plan to be in attendance Sunday, this time at Raymond James Stadium for the sixth time.

Thomas Morstead will be finishing another stellar season for the Saints, averaging 46.1 yards per punt, 43.1 net, with 19 of his 55 punts downed inside the 20. Career-wise, he's at 46.9 yards per punt, 41.2 yards net, with 116 of his 351 offerings downed inside the 20.

"You know how you go to every high school game and then when it's their last game you think, 'Aw, that's sad, it's over,' " Isobel said. "You enjoy it. And then, he went to SMU, he was a walk-on and sat on the bench for two years (Morstead didn't play during his redshirt freshman season), and we went to the games and everything. And then, he got the starting spot.

"But then, after college is over, you think, 'Oh, no, it's over.' And then he got drafted, so we just kind of kept going. That's kind of all there is to it."

Actually, it's an impressive streak of longevity, aided by the fact that the Morstead was drafted by the Saints. His parents live in Houston and drive to New Orleans for each home game, as well as to games the Saints play in Houston or Dallas.

"(The drive to New Orleans is) about 700 miles round trip," she said. "When he was drafted by the Saints, I never really thought about where he would be. You say, please let him be drafted by a team. But then it was New Orleans, one of the closer teams to us. We live pretty close to one of the airports so we use Southwest Airlines a lot (for road games)."

Of course, there have been the occasional close calls.

"One of the preseason games, my husband missed a flight and couldn't go," she said. "So I just went by myself. Sometimes flights are canceled when you almost get there, but we actually haven't had too many problems except once. One of the Philadelphia games, we had to drive home, all the flights were canceled, something like that."

Isobel and John also have learned to be industrious when it comes to scoring tickets to games.

"We just kind of go on the fly – we don't bother him for tickets, we just make our own reservations and show up," she said. "I would hate it if it was a big headache for him.

"We always joke that our house is so old, (and) it's already paid for so. The thing is, it's one of those things where if you knew you were going to live to be 100, maybe you would save more money. But we look for inexpensive tickets – like at the Tampa Bay game (Sunday), if you wait till the last minute, you can probably buy them for $10 at the gate.

"We just enjoy it. He may be thinking, 'Oh, god, here they are again.' "

That last line drew a chuckle from the mother. The son, more serious, said he looks forward to seeing his parents at his games.

"It's great," Thomas said. "I love it. Now that we have a baby at home (9-month-old Maxwell), they're even more motivated to come every week for the home games.

"It's always great having somebody there to support you. They've been there since I was 4 years old playing soccer, at every game. That was something that they always made a conscious decision to always be there, which is great."

So, Isobel and John have become experts at dealing with airport security checks. And they've perfected the art of packing for road games.

"With all the regulations and what you can take and what you can't take, you just kind of have one bag," she said. "You wear the Saints jersey every game, you don't really have to pack much. We normally go for one night, and then fly home."

And they thank the football gods that Thomas wasn't drafted by, say, Seattle.

"We probably wouldn't have gone to all the games," Isobel said, laughing. "Maybe, we'd have gone to all the away games."

Photos of New Orleans Saints P Thomas Morstead from the 2013 season (New Orleans Saints photos)

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