Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who Dat Say De Gonna Beat Dem Saints?

Okay. Okay, I'm gonna 'fess up. I'm as nuts about the idea of the New Orleans Saints being in the Super Bowl as if I still lived there in the city where I was formed. The entire state of Louisiana, but especially south Louisiana--which if you know anything about the place should be another state all by itself--is going nuts. And I am, and so is the whole family, which is scattered from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Norman, Oklahoma, to Denver to Salt Lake City.  We're all bonkers about the New Orleans Saints and their trip to the Super Bowl. The game is one week away. Just like the entire Louisiana diaspora, and especially the New Orleans contingent, I wish I were back home now for the excitement, the whole atmosphere. For those who don't understand, well, here's why the entire state of Louisiana is on its ear. The Saints have been in the National Football League since 1967. That's 43 seasons. And of those seasons, the New Orleans Saints won more games they lost in exactly 8, counting this year's amazing season. It's hardly a distinguished history, to say the least. The Saints have been for years a study in futility. It wasn't until the turn of the century that the franchise began showing some signs of life. And this year . . . well, the Saints have finally won a conference championship and chance to win it all in the Super Bowl.

But there's more. As anyone from down there will tell you, the Saints are more than just a professional football team to the city of New Orleans. Their identity has been merged with the suffering metropolis that underwent the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. Driven out of their home--the Superdome was severely damaged in the storm--the Saints did not play a single game of the 2005 season at home. Their homecoming in 2006 was a hugely emotional event for the city. And anybody who understands will tell you that the Saints are more than just a football team to the people of New Orleans. It's a complicated and passionate attachment we're talking about. It's a love affair between a city and a football team. What can I say?

There are nay-sayers, of course, who are talking about the relative insignificance of a professional football team in the large scheme of things. Even my own daughter is trying to talk some sense into me about this event. But it won't do any good. I'm crazy 'bout dem Saints and I'm not even going to think about the possibility of their winning the Super Bowl. I don't know how I could stand that kind of ecstasy. The Rangers winning the World Series would be only thing remotely comparable.

Who dat!

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