LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The NFL’s New Orleans Saints went marching in on Wednesday at the Espy Awards and walked away with the trophy for best sports team while quarterback Drew Brees was named best male athlete by fans of sports TV network ESPN.
Brees led the Saints, long considered among the worst teams in U.S. professional football, to a come-from-behind victory in the National Football League’s Super Bowl championship game. The triumphant season boosted the spirits of the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“What was most unique about this team was, very quickly, we realized we were playing for more than just football. We were playing for the region and the city,” Saints’ head coach Sean Payton told the crowd at the Espys.
Earlier, Brees collected his trophy onstage and thanked his family, his offensive line and the “Who Dat Nation,” as the team’s die-hard fans have been nicknamed.
The night’s other big winner was Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, who took home awards for best female athlete and best female Olympian for fighting off a leg injury to win the gold medal in the downhill race at the 2010 Vancouver Games.