This week has aged me seven or eight years, so I think it’s time to take a day off from all of the boob talk and just enjoy the weekend. With fall creeping in, it’s all about football around here and, thanks to a good friend with an extra ticket, I’ll be at the Saints game getting my Who Dat on at the Dome tomorrow. (Thanks, Holly!)
So, in honor of the occasion, I’m reposting an old favorite – an article I wrote for New Orleans Magazine online almost five years ago when the Saints finished up their first season after Hurricane Katrina. We didn’t think we could ever match that excitement again. Little did we know what was waiting for us just three years later …
Good luck, tomorrow, Saints. I’m expecting a good game.
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A Converted Soul … or should I say Saint? (January 2007)
All my life I’ve been one of those people at football parties who help to prepare the food and clean the kitchen. I keep an eye on the kids in the other room. I catch up with old friends who dare to dart to the bathroom during the commercials or take a risk by running over to grab a snack between plays. I’ve learned to have conversations with people who aren’t making eye contact with me but rather looking over my shoulder toward the television. And I know that there’s a really good chance that I may be suddenly interrupted by my listener’s screams of joy or frustration at whatever just happened during the big game.
Yes, that’s me. I’m that pain-in-the-butt person who attends the weekly football parties for the engaging company, the always delicious game day spread and the exciting atmosphere surrounding it all. I do my best to blend in by cheering when everyone cheers and booing when everyone boos. I’m neither a big fan nor a big student of football. I get that touchdowns are 6 points with a possible 7th point coming from a kick. I know about the three point field goal. And there are points from safeties and other things like that. I also know that for every one second of football time that it’ll really be about three seconds of actual time. That’s all I really need to know. It’s gotten me this far. I’m good.
Of course, I’ve taken plenty of ribbing from my family about it. I’ve always been more of a theater person. You know, one of those ‘Imagine-if-all-of-the-money-spent-on-just-one-football-game-could-be-put-into-a-theater-company’ kinds of people. Football people hate that and I’ve come to learn to just keep my mouth shut and “enjoy” the game.
But this year was different.
I’m a New Orleans native. I was born here, attended school here and, except for a brief stint traveling only as far away as LSU for college, have spent my full adult life here. I completed graduate school at UNO. And I have lived in the neighborhoods of Algiers, City Park, Lakeview and finally Old Metairie. I brought my husband here from Baton Rouge and we are now raising our kids here. I love New Orleans.
So, when the storm came through and took away my whole lifestyle and daily routine in Lakeview, I (like everyone else within a thousand mile radius) was completely devastated. Would we come back? And, if we did, what would we do? Where would we go? Would we rebuild our home or sell it? And while everyone in the city was floundering over these many questions as well as Guinness Book spools of red tape in which we all found ourselves entangled, in marched the Saints!
I’ve been watching these games for years with the rest of New Orleans. We’ve never been a strong team, but we’ve always been a proud team, one of the proudest in the league. That’s New Orleans for you. We know we’ve got our warts; some of them we even embrace.
But … again … this year was different.
I think on some level everybody knew back on Monday, September 25, 2006 that things were changing. U2 and Green Day were performing together in the Dome for Monday Night Football, for God’s sake. I remember watching the beginning of the game from my rented “home” on that historical night and crying. Me. Crying … about football!
But it wasn’t about football. I mean, for many people it probably was about football, but it was also this feeling of victory in overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. It made me feel as if everything was going to be okay. Astounding. All of that from a football team.
This past season, I found myself watching every game. I read parts of the Sports section to keep up to date about the team. I even listened to AM talk radio about the Saints when nobody else was in the car!!! I think my family would agree that that may well be the Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse.
I was so excited that every Sunday felt like Super Bowl Sunday. I dressed my kids in their new team clothing every week and found myself even selecting my clothing to support the team and wear the colors on game day.
I never thought it could happen but I got just as caught up in it all as anyone. It was an amazing ride and I for one will be tuning in next year. We may not have made it all the way this year, but that’s what 2008 is for. For me, “I believe” “the Saints Are Coming” and they will forever be “Marching In.”
Thank you, Saints, for a wonderfully uplifting and enlightening year!