Even with his hair cut and beard trimmed, Rob Ryan is still the obvious candidate out on 5800 Airline Drive to play Santa Claus.
“Yeah, I’ve been asked to a few times,” said the Saints defensive coordinator, although looking none too jolly about the prospect. “I wasn’t very good; not as good as you would have thought.
“I did it for about an hour when I was in college and I quit because I was making kids cry.”
Aw, come on, coach. Get in the spirit.
How about passing out some Christmas wishes for the Saints — and maybe even throwing in a few for those damned Dirty Birds from Atlanta?
“We’ll OK,” Ryan replied. “I’m probably a little better Santa now. But, I’ve got to tell you, I’m kind of dragging right now.”
Not a problem, we told our faux (but sufficiently fat) St. Nick as we crawled up on his lap — certainly no easy task for either one of us.
And while you’re finishing up your game plan, we’ll help you out. Then, after the game, we’ll celebrate with milk and cookies:
For Drew Brees: Some Wranglers, a case of NyQuil, a pair of Monster headphones, coupons from Jimmy Johns and a free subscription to DirectTV.
Wait, he’s got all of that.
How about a 10-year supply of C-cell batteries to keep his right arm (7,373 career passes attempted) going for another decade?
For Marques Colston: If this is his final season with the team, one last big game — including the game-winning touchdown, to remind us who was the greatest receiver in Saints history.
For Robert Meachem: One last perfectly arched deep ball.
For Keenan Lewis: A first-time Pro Bowl berth for the Pride of the West Bank.
For Pierre Thomas: A perfectly executed screen pass.
For Jarius Byrd: A reminder of why he was supposed to be worth $54 million.
For Akiem Hicks: A reminder of why he was supposed to be the team’s next big thing.
For Shayne Graham: Some job security so he can have a steady hand — er, foot — until the end of the season.
For whoever operates the third-down siren: Forgetting how it works. Spoiler alert: A little elf told us it’s already been dismantled. It’s a Festivus Miracle!
For whoever operates the air-conditioning ducts over the Superdome press box: Ditto.
For team salary analyst Joseph Laine: The best computer program available, so he can wrestle with starting out 2015 about $20 million over the cap.
For Jahri Evans: A good money manager to take care of the belt-tightening he’s going to have to do after the team deals with his $11 million cap number.
For director of college scouting Rick Reiprish: A much better draft than 2014.
For the Lost Boys Class of ’14: An offseason filled with lots and lots of improvement.
For Jimmy Graham: Stickum. At $10 million a year, he shouldn’t need Santa to bring it to him.
For Kenny Vaccaro: A postgame podium so he doesn’t have 50 people gathered around his locker waiting for him to say something outrageous.
For Zach Strief: Some relief from having to be the official player spokesman whenever things are going badly. Or playing well, for that matter.
For Thomas Morstead: Lessons in how to execute a coffin-corner punt instead of always trying to make them stick inside the 5.
For Luke McCown: Another fake field goal so he can actually get to throw a pass again.
For Stanley Jean-Baptiste: Patience.
For Ryan Griffin: Ditto.
For Curtis Lofton, Parys Haralson and David Hawthorne: Recognition of the team’s starting linebackers for their solid, week-in, week-out play.
For Cam Jordan: A sack, so he can remember what one looks like.
For Kenny Stills: More space on his back for new tattoos.
For Pierre Warren: An “I told you so” button he can show to whoever decided to cut him.
For Junior Galette: More days when he’s playing like Senior Galette.
For Jonathan Jenkins: A good sack dance. The one he made after the first of his career in the Bears game looked more like he was trying to rip open a bag of Doritos.
For Mark Ingram and Patrick Robinson : An Alabama-Florida State national championship game, so they can argue about the merits of the Crimson Tide vs. the Seminoles for a week.
For Corey White: A nice set of luggage to pack for wherever he’s playing next season. That goes for several other guys, too.
For Joe Morgan: A better fit somewhere else. And a better showing of why he deserves to be in the league.
For Mickey Loomis: Some extra help so the general manager of both the Saints and Pelicans has more time to talk to the media.
For Saints President Dennis Lauscha: Discovering how to transplant the local passion for the Saints to the Pelicans, who do happen to have a winning record.
For Bobby Hebert: Another reason to wear Buddy D’s dress.
For Morten Andersen: Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shouldn’t scoring more points than anyone else in league history be enough?
For Sean Payton: Improved sales for Formula Four so he doesn’t have to wear those T-shirts pushing it all the time.
For Matt Ryan: An official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot range air rifle ... so ... Nah. Scratch that. The Saints need to beat him straight up so there won’t be any excuses afterward.
For Tom Benson: Being able to throw away his walker and do the Benson Boogie after the Super Bowl. The NBA Finals too, for that matter.
For all the folks in Who Dat Land: Good health. The love of family and friends. Peace.
And a good plucking of the Dirty Birds.
Merry Black & Gold Christmas.