HomeCultureTwo Must-See Sports Teams in the Deep South

Two Must-See Sports Teams in the Deep South

Sports and the Deep South go hand in hand. The region is synonymous with sporting triumphs and, with the boom of soccer in recent years, even more must-see sporting action is now taking place in the famous five southeastern states.

A number of the United States’ most well-renowned and respected sportspeople also hail from the district. Cam Newton is one of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation. He led the Carolina Panthers to a first Super Bowl appearance in 12 years back in 2015. The former NFL MVP is originally from Atlanta, Georgia—the largest city in the Deep South.

The area is also notoriously tough. As such, it’s no surprise that some of the greatest boxing and MMA champions consider the Deep South home. Former two-division UFC Champion Daniel Cormier is from Lafayette, Louisiana, as is Dustin Poirier—the only man to knock out the notorious Conor McGregor. Former WBC world heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And one of the greatest welterweights of all time, Thomas Hearns, also hails from the Deep South, with the Hitman fighting out of Grand Junction, Tennessee.

The list of notable individuals from the region is endless, so when taking a trip across the Deep South, make it your mission to attend a sporting event. And when you do, make sure you watch one of these teams.

New Orleans Saints – NFL

As anyone who has visited will tell you, New Orleans is an incredible city. The “Big Easy” is renowned for its live music scene, as well as its multicultural roots, with French, African and American cultures all mingling together. The city is one of the best places to visit during Mardi Gras, which takes place in late winter. Back in the winter of 2009, however, a different event was the talk of the city—Super Bowl XLIV.

Thirteen years ago, the New Orleans Saints were gearing up for their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. They made the 850-mile journey east to Miami’s 75,000-capacity Sun Life Stadium. Awaiting them were the Indianapolis Colts. However, the Indiana-based franchise was no match for the Super Bowl debutantes. The Saints—led by quarterback Drew Brees—secured their first-ever Lombardi trophy with a convincing 31-17 victory.

Only Miami has played host to the Super Bowl more times, with a tally of 11. New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl no less than 10 times. The most recent championship game in the city was held back in 2013 in the awe-inspiring Caesars Superdome (then known as the Mercedez-Benz Superdome).

On that occasion, it was the Baltimore Ravens who stormed to glory, with the match famously interrupted due to a power cut in the stadium that caused the lights to go out. This year, OddsChecker, which compares odds and provides free offers on the NFL, has made the Buffalo Bills favorites to lift their first-ever Lombardi Trophy, but that doesn’t mean that the Saints aren’t worth a visit.

Admittedly, the Saints haven’t hit the heights of 2009 in recent years. They reached the playoffs in four consecutive seasons between 2017 and 2020, but only progressed beyond the divisional round once. Their start to the new season has also been a mixed bag. Three consecutive defeats to Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers and then the Minnesota Vikings had seemingly derailed any playoff ambitions.

However, their recent victory over the Seattle Seahawks has triggered hopes of a resurgence. Regardless, if you’re ever in the Deep South, the Saints are well worth a watch.

Atlanta United – MLS


Soccer is one of America’s newest obsessions. The arrivals of superstars such as David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka helped grow the sport on this side of the Atlantic, and the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup, which takes place in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, will only help the planet’s favorite sport grow further.

Major League Soccer has been a staple of the country’s sporting landscape since 1993 and, although it had to endure some dark days early on in its lifespan, the sport is finally finding its feet. And there is no city that has taken to soccer more than Atlanta.

Unlike MLS originals such as the LA Galaxy and DC United, soccer only came to Atlanta five years ago. Atlanta United was formed in 2017 as one of the league’s newest “expansion” teams. They immediately hit the ground running thanks to the performance of Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez. The 29-year-old helped himself to 19 goals in 20 appearances during that inaugural campaign, including back-to-back hat tricks against New England Revolution and Orlando City. This helped to catapult the new franchise to a fourth-placed finish overall. They would, however, lose out in the post-season playoffs.

One year later, Atlanta United wasn’t to be stopped. A further 31 regular season goals from Martinez led his side to 21 victories and just seven defeats. That was enough to fire them all the way to the playoffs, where they would defeat both New York sides to reach the final, which was being held in their iconic new home—the 73,000-capacity Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

In the final, Atlanta met the 2015 MLS Cup winners Portland Timbers. The Timbers were no match for the hosts, and goals from Martinez and Franco Escobar were enough to secure a 2-0 victory and a maiden MLS Cup in the team’s second season in existence.

In the years since, Atlanta United has continued to impress, but has been unable to reach the playoffs this season. Martinez was only able to bag nine goals and his English striker partner, Dom Dwyer, could muster up just four. That shyness in front of goal meant that United managed just 10 regular season victories, leaving them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, some eight points adrift of the playoffs.

As such, if you do plan on watching Atlanta United in their masterpiece of a stadium, you will have to wait until next March when the new MLS season gets under way. It will be worth the wait …

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