Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Black and Gold Superbowl

The days following Katrina were so long and so dark. With every phone call and every news update we waited anxiously to learn what was the latest tragedy to occur within the flood walls of our dear city. I remember a day in early September when I was sitting in our temporary apartment in Houma and Mark walked in with a terrible look on his face. He asked me to sit down and said he had bad news. "They are moving the Saints to San Antonio." I wanted to cry, but there were no tears left. We had been mourning the death of our pre-Katrina life for weeks now. It sounds insensitive to be so distraught about something as frivolous as a sports team, but for me - for all New Orleanians - the Saints are New Orleans. We had lost so much already, it was one final reminder that New Orleans no longer had a place.

In the end, the team awarded us four home games in Tiger Stadium. The only good thing to come out of that, with a team as bad as the one we had, was people finally had something other than FEMA and their thieving contractors to talk about at work. They were simply pitiful. And when we walked out of Tiger Stadium that last day, I really believed it was last time we'd see the boys of the black and gold.

We started to hear rumors and rumblings about a renovated stadium, and then we heard that Drew Brees chose us as the place where he saw his future. Honestly, it was the first time since the storm that anyone had shown a glimmer of faith in our dear city. He will go down in history as the greatest Saints QB of all time (sorry Archie) for his undying trust in our team and in our people. And then what do you know, we sign Reggie Bush. And all of a sudden the energy and excitement that you felt everyday in this city before Katrina started coming back. Not for good, but for the brief seconds when you believed that the Saints and the city could do it. That we could get through the torture of Monday through Saturday if they could just give us Sunday.

August 25, 2006: The Superdome re-opens. Of all the days of my life, this is truly one of the most special. I have never been so proud to be a New Orleanian than the moment we walked through the gates of that stadium. 70,000 people who were once strangers were now friends. We were there to witness the rebirth of a franchise and the rebirth of a city. U-2's remake of the Saints Were Coming unleashed the passion our city has for this team. It was more than a game, it was an escape from the sadness and void we all tried to ignore. It was what we all tried to find in every crevice of the city - normalcy. We were home in the dome. We were hugging and kissing the people in our section like you would members of your family. The last time we had seen them we thought we'd meet again for the home opener in two weeks - it had now been an entire year. The game is a blur of amazing moments, but the best of them was when Steve Gleason blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Curtis Deloach. The people around us were shaking their beer bottles and spraying it like champagne on New Years Eve. We left that game covered in beer, sweat, and tears. It was truly the start of something great.

That magical season where the team came so close to making it to the big game you saw athletes that willed themselves to win, not for themselves, but for us. They gave us the greatest gift we could have received (aside from better levees and proceeds from our insurance companies) - the hope that if you fight hard enough and long enough you will see the fruits of your labor. And at that time living in New Orleans was a labor of love.

February 3, 2013 - NEW ORLEANS WILL HOST THE SUPERBOWL!!!! The owners just made the decision after years of work on the bid. We did it! We will get the opportunity to showcase our great city on the grandest global stage in the sports world! And we all know there is nothing we do better than host a party. With the Saints locked up in New Orleans until 2025, the only way this day could be more perfect for our city would be if the Saints made it there. I can't even begin to imagine the hysteria that would take over if that happened. There are so many people who are responsible for making our bid the winning one, but in the end it is the people of New Orleans who deserve all the credit. It took heart, determination, persistence, and most importantly, love to bring New Orleans back. And according to the sports world, it's official - we're back!

Who dat, baby. Who dat!

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