Sunday, February 07, 2010

You Have to Root for the Saints

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

My good friend Tracy is from Indiana and is a huge Colts fan. I certainly respect that. But I don't know how anyone not from Indiana could root for the Colts today.

I was in New Orleans in October of last year, the first trip to the Bayou since I was a little kid. New Orleans is a a great city, and I stayed at a hotel just off Bourbon Street. The mixture of cultures, excellent food, and tawdry series of drinking establishments in the downtown areas of the city make it a unique tourist experience.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans
October 21, 2009

But underneath the pomp and circumstance, you feel sadness in New Orleans. Almost as if the city is unable to live up to its potential. I had always known New Orleans has its fair share of poverty, and my friends who went to school there say the "sadness" I sensed has always been there, but you have to assume the city is still struggling with its future post-Katrina.

The hotel I stayed in had just reopened after being gutted and rebuilt. The hotel was flooded by Katrina, and the mold from the deluge made the entire building uninhabitable. When I left the hotel, I was reminded by hotel employees to stay in groups after dark. "Many are still angry," they would say. I did not go to the Ninth Ward to witness the rebuilding efforts, but Katrina was on everyone's mind. Rather than feeling a surge of rebirth, however, what I sensed was more of an understanding of dejection. Kind of like New Orleans is always on the short end of the stick. Of course, I was only there for a week.

There was one thing that was a rallying cry while I was there, and that was the New Orleans Saints. At the time, they were still undefeated.

Today is the New Orleans Saints first trip to the Super Bowl. Before this season, the Saints had won just two games in the playoffs, in the history of the franchise. The team has been in the NFL since 1967. In that same time period, the Dallas Cowboys have won 33 playoff games and five Super Bowl championships.

Consider this-- despite all the great games played in the Louisiana Superdome over the years, including Super Bowls, college bowl football games and NCAA basketball Final Fours, the Saints win two weeks ago was the first time an NFL conference championship game was played there.

You can't be a bigger underdog than the City of New Orleans has been, and the New Orleans Saints are today. The country is rooting for them.

Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday.

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