Saints Fans Missing Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Today Will Turn On Him Tomorrow
“… How do I say goodbye to what we had?
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad
… I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday”
New Orleans Saints fans are sorting through their emotions today after learning fan favorite Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a bag of Skittles (not really, but the return in the trade isn’t great).
Gardner-Johnson, often referred to by his preferred handle of Ceedy Duce, joined the team in 2019 as a 4th round pick out of Florida.
He quickly ingratiated himself to the Saints fan base with his bravado, fearlessness, and ability to get under the skin of seemingly any opponent.
Talking trash to Tom Brady. Kicking the Falcons logo. Getting opposing wide receivers kicked out of playoff games.
Gardner-Johnson was a solid slot cornerback. While his play was good, it wasn’t at an All-Pro level. His play wasn’t why #22 jerseys were prominent among New Orleans fans on gameday.
If he was a bad player, it wouldn’t have mattered. He would've been cut.
But because of his personality, he didn't have to be great. He only had to be good to be one of the more beloved players to suit up for the Saints in recent memory.
Look at some of the fan reactions on Twitter today after the trade was announced.
Include me in that number.
Despite the sad farewells, I’ve interacted with fans long enough to know the vast majority of them crying about Gardner-Johnson’s departure will eventually turn on him.
Gardner-Johnson embraced the fanbase and the culture around it. I expect he’ll do the same thing in Philadelphia.
All the braggadocious trash talk he’s directed at other teams and fanbases will eventually be directed toward the team who just traded him because they didn’t want to pay him the contract he was seeking.
How are Saints fans going to react when he says something negative about New Orleans? Or Michael Thomas (who punched him once in practice)? Or Dennis Allen?
How will Saints fans react when New Orleans plays the Eagles on January 1st?
I know this much. It won’t become a tribute to Ceedy Duce. If he plays well, Saints fans will be upset that he’s rubbing it in after every play. If he struggles, Saints fans will come with, “I’m so glad we (the really mean the owner) didn’t pay him that kind of contract he was looking for.”
Such is the cyclical nature of sports fandom.
Some Saints fans have already turned on him, claiming he would've been a cancer in the locker room all season.
Nick Underhill reported Gardner-Johnson "stopped taking coaching" at some of the training camp practices during his recent contract dispute.
Would that have led to major locker room problems this season? We'll never know, but it's enough of a reason for some fans to convince themselves today's trade was the only way forward.
In 2011, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham was the toast of the town. An All-Pro player who was one of the top performers for a historic record-breaking offense.
A few years later, he grew sour after not getting the contract he hoped for, and the fanbase turned on him.
Today, let’s just enjoy Gardner-Johnson’s finest moments in a Saints uniform. The turn can come later.