Sammy Guillot woke up Sunday morning (Jan. 13) and attended the 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine like he does every Sunday. Only this time, Guillot had another Saint on his mind.
After Mass was over, Guillot pulled the priest aside and handed him two sets of rosary beads with a request. He needed these beads to be blessed.
Six hours later, as Drew Brees made his way along the Mercedes-Benz Superdome field walls signing autographs before pre-game warmups, Guillot stopped him.
The 62-year-old hairstylist placed one set of the beads in Brees’ hand and pulled him in to tell him why he was giving them to him.
Watch Saints fans sing happy birthday to Drew Brees, and one fan gives Brees a rosary prior to the Eagles game. ⚜️ #whodat
Posted by New Orleans Saints On NOLA.com on Sunday, January 13, 2019
Nine years ago, Brees was leaving the Superdome after a Week 16 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Guillot stopped Brees to give him some beads blessed for the Saints.
“Thank you, man,” Brees told him at the time. “I really appreciate that. You don’t know how much that means to me.”
Just over a month later, the Saints were Super Bowl champs.
It stood out to Brees, who referenced the moment in a 2012 ESPN the Magazine story Guillot still holds on to.
Guillot is a superstitious man, something the routine-oriented Brees, of all people, would understand. With the Saints again holding the No. 1 seed as they work toward another title, he went back to what worked.
“I did it then, I’m gonna do it now so we can carry on this tradition,” Guillot said.
Guillot’s been coming to the Superdome since Bum Phillips’ first season coaching the Saints in 1981. He started out sitting at the top of the terrace level with $12 tickets, moved to the end zone 20 rows up, then was in the first row by the tunnel and now is in the front row of section 132 — field level, in the corner.
He’s been watching through the worst of times, seeing losing seasons and waiting 19 years to see a playoff win. Then, something happened.
“When Sean Payton and Drew came here, everything changed,” he said.
He has watched as the Saints won a Super Bowl and have gone through a run of success, and he’s been the guy showing up the moment the doors open for every game. He said he’s missed no more than one hand’s worth of games since 1981, and only because he was sick or on vacation.
And for each of those games, he’s seen Brees go up and down the wall signing anything and everything for fans. He claims he has more autographs from Brees than anyone on Earth. Guillot’s daughter, Courtland Pruitt, said Brees takes her phone sometimes to take selfies with her and daughter, Anna Claire.
“He’s a great football player,” Guillot said. “He’s a better human being. I’m telling you, he’s a great guy.”
But Guillot had two sets of rosary beads blessed. The other was for offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod.
Guillot and Bushrod go back to Bushrod’s rookie season in 2007, when Bushrod was a fourth-round pick in street clothes who played in only three games his first two years. Guillot started talking to him, and it became a weekly routine.
Bushrod lit up when asked about Guillot. He said they talk about family and football, and he joked Guillot probably has most of his gloves and hats.
“I look for him every time I come off the field, just a familiar face,” Bushrod said.
Bushrod’s daughter, Jordyn Lynn, died Oct. 18 just a week after being born. Guillot spoke to him Sunday before the game and gave him his beads. Bushrod started to choke up.
“He told me he was continuing to pray for me, pray for my family, because of my daughter who is blessed in heaven, so he gave me those rosary beads before the game,” Bushrod said. “So, it’s a cool little relationship.”
At the end of the 2012 season, when Bushrod knew his contract was up and he was leaving, he sought out Guillot in the stands.
“Sam, let me tell you something,” he said. “It’s been nice knowing you. My contract’s gonna expire shortly. It’s a business. I don’t know where I’m gonna be at, but when I come back here, I know where you’re at.”
Guillot made sure to let him know what he accomplished.
“Look at it like this,” Guillot recalls telling him. “You came here, you was nobody. You became a starter. You became a Pro-Bowler. You got a Super Bowl ring. You’ve done it all. Wherever you go, you’re gonna do well.”
After nearly 40 years of coming to Saints games, Guillot thinks he has a good chance at seeing a second Super Bowl run. After beating the Eagles 20-14 on Sunday, the Saints face the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game next week.
They are one game away from appearing in the Super Bowl again, and Guillot has one more game in the Superdome this season.
Until then, he’s proudly showing off his Saints hat with two Brees autographs on it. He doesn’t know what will happen in the coming weeks, but he thinks God is in the Saints’ corner.
“The good Lord brought us a long way, and he’s got us a ring,” Guillot said. “Might happen again this year.”
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