With the announcement coming Friday in Phoenix that the Saints will be traveling across the Atlantic Ocean for an October 26 showdown with the San Diego Chargers, excitement is running high throughout the organization at having been selected by the league to play in the showcase game at London's Wembley Stadium.
Team Owner Tom Benson is eager for his club to have a chance to show the rest of the world the kind of entertainment they have been bringing to their fans in the Gulf Coast.
"This is a unique and exciting opportunity for our team and we are very proud to represent our region and our great fans when we travel to the United Kingdom in late October," Benson said following the announcement of the game. "The national and international exposure that our team, our city and our state will receive will be unprecedented. The league has been playing overseas since the 1980s and last year was the first regular season game in Europe, featuring the giants and dolphins. The Giants used that game as a springboard to their super bowl run and I hope we are as successful."
The contest will mark the second time a regular season NFL game has been played on British soil, with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants squaring off at Wembley in October 2007. The Saints are no strangers to playing abroad, though, having played preseason games in Tokyo (1993), London (1990) and Mexico City (1978).
Quarterback Drew Brees is especially looking forward to the game, both because it will be his first time lining up against the Chargers, the team with which he spent the first five years of his career, and also for the chance to bring American Football to England once again.
"This is an amazing opportunity," said Brees. "And I believe I speak for all of my teammates when I say we are excited. London is a great city and they showed last year how much passion they have for our game."
Being selected by the league to play in the International Series shows that the Saints have become a team that football fans around the world want to see play. The brand of football that Head Coach Sean Payton has brought to New Orleans coupled with the play of standout performers like Brees and wide receiver Marques Colston have made the Black and Gold one of the more exciting teams in the NFL and this game will allow an international audience the opportunity to see that up close.
Not only will this game be a chance for the Saints to show the world what they can do on the field, the national and international coverage will help bring to the fore the role that the team is playing in the ongoing rebirth of the city of New Orleans.