In the controlled exuberance of the Saints' post-game locker room, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan makes his way to the exit as quickly and as unobtrusively as his considerable girth will let him - his hand nearly obscuring the light beer that will serve as a victory toast that he will share with his thoughts, if with no one else.
And who could blame him? It had been one hell of a week.
Now the wolves would retreat from his door - at least until next Sunday when the Falcons come calling - and so would those calling for his head and the mane that frames it should recent past failures return.
A mutual friend was telling me last Wednesday how sad and frightened the Ryans are that this city they've fallen in love with could be the latest stop in the peripatetic life of an NFL coach. When not enough three-and-outs for your defense, or too many three-and-outs for your offense, and it's a distinct possibility of another two-and-out for you and your family. Two years in New Orleans, two before that in Dallas, two before that in Cleveland. In the nomadic life of an NFL coach, you keep Mayflower Van Lines on speed-dial, and a gross of change of address cards in your wife's handbag.
Two-and-out is what Marc Trestman and his Chicago Bear staff are even more likely facing in Chicago. Trestman's first opportunity as a head coach in the NFL, former Saints' assistant Aaron Kromer's first opportunity as an offensive coordinator. A losing record precipitating their firings after just two years? Hardly the resume to be hired in the same capacity elsewhere - or maybe to be hired at all.
We turn a blind eye to the personal problems that come with professional opportunities. Big men with big egos with big salaries with big challenges to keep the home fires burning mostly in their absence. With closets full of gear from previous teams that you can no longer wear because you've moved on that hang there as memories of previous stops where teams have moved on without you.
While we and our families cherish being home for the holidays, they spend theirs worrying that being home for the holidays means you missed making the playoffs. And for many of them, they spend their time at home for the holidays wondering where home will be next holiday season.