Baker QB celebrates Saints’ victory in Miami
Mack Brown lived a weekend he may never forget.
Instead of studying like many college students, the Baker University senior and four-year starting quarterback enjoyed the sun and warmth of South Beach, Fla., for a couple of days. He wasn’t just taking in the rays, he was there for a football game.
Of course, not just any football game. He sat in Sun Life Stadium to watch the National Football League’s Super Bowl, which just happened to be the most-watched television event … ever.
“I was really excited, not only because it was the Super Bowl, but also because we were in Miami,” Brown said of his family trip to south Florida and the NFL championship game.
As if all of that weren’t enough excitement, Brown and his family were cheering for the winning side — the New Orleans Saints. They celebrated with thousands of Saints’ fans, who waited 44 years for their franchise to reach the Super Bowl.
In case anyone missed it, the Saints won the Super Bowl by beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Although Miami wasn’t as crazy as The Big Easy, Brown said Saints’ fans were still celebrating.
“Being down there was absolutely unbelievable,” Brown said. “The Saints had never been to the Super Bowl and New Orleans is known for partying. I’ll tell you one thing, they know how to party. Being on South Beach was pretty unbelievable.”
New Orleans defeated Minnesota in the National Football Conference’s championship two weeks prior to Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. Eleven days later, Brown’s dad, Sam Brown, received notification from longtime friend Gregg Williams that his family would be flown down to Miami for the Super Bowl.
Williams is the Saints’ defensive coordinator and a former athlete of Sam Brown’s. Williams was the quarterback for Excelsior Springs (Mo.) High football team during Brown’s first year as coach. Sam Brown was in his early 20s when he started the job.
Several years later, the two met up again at Grandview (Mo.) High. Williams came to Grandview to do his student teaching under Sam Brown, who taught at the school. Since those days decades ago, the pair have been good friends and have stayed in touch.
Sam Brown and his family have followed Williams’ career, which has led him through five NFL franchises. The Brown family has become fans of each team he’s worked for, which became the Saints in January 2009.
“We pretty much just follow Gregg around,” Mack Brown said. “I’ve been a fan of the Bills, Redskins, Jaguars and now the Saints.”
In his first year, Williams helped the Saints to a 13-0 start and a Super Bowl berth. He invited the Brown family to Miami and they gladly accepted. Sam Brown took his wife Cindy, daughter Maggie and son Mack. Maggie also attended Baker and graduated in 2004.
They went to dinner with Williams on Friday. Then the team had a spot for the families and friends to visit with the coach and players on Saturday night.
“We got to meet quite a few celebrities and just being down there was incredible,” Mack Brown said. “We got to see a lot of the festivities. Being around Gregg and the team motel was something I’ll remember forever.”
Then came Sunday. All four members of the family from Liberty, Mo., headed to the stadium in Saints’ gear. They sat in the upper deck, but near midfield, which gave them a good vantage point of the game, according to Mack.
As the game proceeded, Mack said the nerves of the family increased and decreased at different moments of the contest. He admitted they were a bit worried when the Colts took an early 10-0 lead.
He even said it was hard to cheer against the Colts, because he is a fan of their quarterback, Peyton Manning. In the end, he celebrated the Saints’ victory.
“It was just exciting to be in the stadium,” Mack Brown said. “When the Saints went down 10-0, it was really nerve racking and we thought the game might get out of hand. I’m a huge Peyton Manning fan as well, so I enjoyed watching him. The electricity in the stadium was pretty unbelievable. It was probably 3 to 1 Saints fans to Colts fans. When Tracy Porter picked off that last pass, I can’t even describe what the atmosphere was like in there.”
He wasn’t the only person from Baker that was a fan of Manning and Williams. His coach, Mike Grossner, also said he couldn't cheer for either squad.
Grossner knows Williams through his connections to the area and his assistant coaches who know Williams. However, Grossner attended the Manning Passing Academy three straight years, so he became friends with the Manning family.
“Watching the chess game that went on before each play was awesome,” Grossner said. “I sat more in silence, watching the little chess match go on. When Peyton threw the pick, I felt horrible for him, but I also felt the joy and happiness for Gregg. It was his player picking it off and running it all the way back. It was a weird feeling after the game for me. In the end, I watched the game more for football purposes.”
Cheering for the Saints was easy for the Browns. They were even able to see Williams after the game, which was a moment not lost on the youngest Brown.
“We went down to South Beach and celebrated after the game,” Mack Brown said. “It was unbelievable. It was such an exciting moment. When you’re in that profession, that’s what everyone wants. He finally did it. They make a lot of money, but their goal is to win it all. I’m so happy for Gregg.”