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|Lyles a diehard Saints fan|
Earl Lyles and his wife, Lawanda, almost gave up their New Orleans Saints season tickets before last year after attending almost every Saints home game since 2000.
The Ferriday couple are certainly glad they hang on for one more year, a year that saw the Saints come within one game of the Super Bowl.
"We had thought about getting rid of the tickets," Lyles said. "Now that thought doesn't come up.
Lyles was in attendance in the Superdome last January when the Saints defeated Philadelphia 27-24 to advance to their first ever NFC Championship where they lost to the Bears in Chicago.
"I was going to hustle to get some tickets to the Super Bowl if the Saints had won that game," Lyles said. "Season ticket holders get first priority."
But even as thrilling as that win was, Lyles said that game doesn't compare to the first game of last season.
The Saints defeated Atlanta 23-3 in the first contest held in the Superdome since it was damaged from Hurricane Katrina.
"That was the loudest event I have ever been to," Lyles said with a brief shudder from just remembering the event. "Everything was just double what it usually is. I couldn't even hear myself scream. It was a night I will never forget. It was very special. No game will ever match that game."
Lyles, 45, became a season-ticket holder after attending a game in 2000 with friend Wendell Boxley.
Lyles worked for Southern Roofing for eight years in New Orleans before returning to Ferriday to run the Ferriday Car Wash for his stepfather, Fred McMorris.
Lyles has heard all the jokes about being a dedicated Saints fan.
"It builds you up," he said. "If you are a Saints fan, you can handle just about anything."
Lyles said he had people asking him for tickets last season.
"I would not have had any problem getting rid of them," he said.
But he admits it was still different from before Hurricane Katrina.
"Last year it seemed like there was nothing open but the Superdome," Lyles said. "We usually had to stop in LaPlace or McComb to get something to eat because everything is three times as much in the Superdome. There were a few more things open this year. It's coming back a bit."
This season is a lot different also as the Saints failed to make the playoffs.
"I think we were depending too much on Reggie Bush," Lyles said. "I never knew Aaron Stecker ran that good until Bush got hurt. Deuce (McAllister) getting hurt was a big blow, but they need to go back to how they used Bush last year. And they need to get rid of every one of the defensive backs except (Mike) McKenzie. Everybody picks on Jason David."
Lyles is hoping the Saints return back to being a contender next year. And he's heard about the grumbling this year about head coach Sean Payton.
"The Saints had a lot of chances to help themselves this year, but didn't do it," Lyles said. "If you want to hear some good stories about the coach, there were a lot being said at the game. But I think Coach Payton is a good coach. Every game he comes out shaking the players hands and making the other coaches do that. He's young and he's still learning. He went further than some of those older guys. The players still respect him."
And Lyles still respects the Saints. He plans on being there again next year.
"If I was there when they were wearing bags I know I'll still be going now."
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