Random Thoughts on The Super Bowl and More
Thoughts on New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints, the World Champion New Orleans Saints from one who knows them all. I am old enough to remember when I first heard that New Orleans was getting a professional football team. I remember watching the Superdome go up and change the skyline of New Orleans, and I remember the first Saints game. I also remember running from Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Katrina. I will never forget the Saints win over the Vikings for the NFC Championship. And I will never, never, never forget the Saints' great win in Miami over the Colts in Super Bowl 44.
Divisions and BindingsThere are many things that divide us as a people. There's race, age, sex, income level, political leanings, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, geography, customs, culture, to name a few. But, in New Orleans, perhaps more than anywhere else, we have found there are so many more things that bind us together. For grief, sadness, loss, despair, hope, love, joy, health, and family are just a few of the emotions, and things that really matter that cross all division lines. We as New Orleanians have learned that.
Rebuilding a City
Hurricane Katrina brought loss of so much, loved ones, homes, jobs, familiar places. We all suffered that. It happened to the rich, the poor, the old, and the young, to men and to women, conservatives and liberals, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, to all of us. When help was non-existent or slow to come, we had to pull together to keep our beloved New Orleans from being wiped off the map. We had to find hope and to share it with others. We had to figure out how to re-build one of the most unique cities in the world and preserve her culture. We made some mistakes, after all, re-building a major American city was never attempted before, and there's wasn't a guide book.
Rebuilding a Football Team
One thing that helped restore our hope and brought us all together was our love for the New Orleans Saints. In the dark months after Hurricane Katrina, it looked as though we may loose the Saints to Texas. The Superdome was in tatters and there was talk of tearing it down. There was no guarantee New Orleans would be re-built. This despair was felt by all New Orleanians regardless of the many divisions. Losing the Saints was the one thing we could not handle. We simply could not imagine New Orleans without the New Orleans Saints. But, hope and determination won out, with the help of members of the New Orleans Saints organization, especially Arnie Feldkow, the NFL, Tom Benson, owner of the Saints, made the decision to keep the team in New Orleans. But, we needed more luck, divine intervention, voodoo, whatever you believe in, to convince quality coaches, staff and players to move their families to a devastated city. Then came Sean Payton, coach of the Saints who arrived in 2006, soon afterward Coach Payton brought Drew Brees into the city. Sometime during a drive with Coach Payton through the stricken city, Drew knew he could make a difference. He was a "throw away" by the San Diego Charges because of a shoulder injury. Maybe he understood some of the sorrow and pain we felt as being dubbed a "throw away" city. Whatever happened, he made the decision to move to New Orleans and lead the New Orleans Saints. And so it went.
The New Orleans Saints re-built the team, largely with free agents. In 2006 with a repaired Superdome, our team came home after playing the 2005 season in San Antonio. It was November 6, 2006. In a very emotional homecoming the Saint beat the Falcons by a score of 23-3. We were off and running. I was in the Superdome that night. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when Green Day joined U2 for the opening performance. Our home, our dome, our team, our fellow Saints fans, our people were given hope.
Flash forward to the 2009 season. We saw how great the Saints are. We saw how great Drew Brees is. We saw the determination in the players and the coaches and we knew this was our year. Of course the national media didn't see it or get it. But, then the national media seldom gets New Orleans, her people, her culture. We just don't conform and that makes us tough to cover.
For the last two weeks we have heard about how great Peyton Manning is, and that's true. After all Peyton is one of New Orleans's sons. But, little was said about Drew Brees. It was a foregone conclusion according to a majority of the national press that the Colts were just too strong for the Saints. Again, when covering New Orleans, the national press was wrong.
The Bond of Joy
The joy and elation that exploded over New Orleans at the end of the Super Bowl was a sight to see. There were horns blowing, fireworks going off, people were in the streets waving Saints flags. It was the rich, the poor, the old, the young, the conservatives, the liberals, black and white, the religious, the non-religious, men and women. The whole Who Dat Nation roared as one. Because joy is felt by all.