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GEAUX SAINTS -- N'Awlins Makes the Super Bowl

Sarah's picture

Yeah, I'll be cheering for the quarterback from the NFC and the team from New Orleans.

The Saints (you know, the team that calls the Superdome home?) are going to the NFL's biggest party for the first time; they will play the Colts in Miami two weeks from today. Y'all know I'm a Cowboys fan; but there's more to the story -- we all remember what NOLa went through after Katrina. We all know what the Superdome looked like, and we all read and heard about what happened in and around that building, almost five years ago. Well, something way different's happening in and around that building tonight, and that's a good thing.

There's more to the story of Drew Brees, too.

And unlike many lifelong residents of New Orleans or other Saints who rarely actually visit any of the Rue de Whatevers and choose to stay in Mandeville or Metairie or Kenner, Brees gets New Orleans as if he was a native with a street named after him. He gets New Orleans like Archie Manning did 39 years ago when he moved into a home off St. Charles Avenue. He understands New Orleans, and he loves it. It's not for everyone, but those that get it love it.

Brees and his wife Brittany decided to restore a hundred-year-old home uptown amid the ruins of post Katrina. While rebuilding the ultimate fixer-upper franchise, Brees did the same at home and both tasks have had their difficulties. Yes, fans, Drew Brees had a blue roof, too.
The home didn't suffer any flood damage, but it definitely had hurricane damage," Brees said. "I mean we had to replace the entire roof."

Yeah, so did Superdome executive director Doug Thornton. Brees was rebuilding his home because he chose to, not because he had to, but he could still relate to his new New Orleans neighbors and gain an appreciation. Now, he works and lives in places with new roofs.

"There were a lot of homes in uptown six to eight blocks away that had suffered some serious flood damage," he said. "And people weren't back in their home for two years. But our home was like any in uptown New Orleans. It's over 100 years old, and it was constant maintenance — upkeep and restoration. But for me, I was proud to do that. I felt like I was doing my part to restore the neighborhood and make it better."

What you have to know about Drew Brees is that he's from Texas. Dallas, by birth, and Austin, home of The University of Texas, which is a perennial power in national collegiate football. (They can afford to be.) He won a state championship for his high school, Westlake. But ... none of the Texas schools offered him a scholarship, so he played college ball at ... Purdue. Purdue? Yeah. See, he's barely six feet tall (well, maybe with two pair of thick socks), but like I keep tellin' y'all, it ain't the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog. Drew Brees has something going for him -- and somebody pulling for him: former Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator, now NOLa Saints head coach Sean Payton.

"This stadium used to have holes in it. It used to be wet. It's not wet anymore," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "This is for the city of New Orleans."

Payton didn't hide his feelings after the ball game either.

"It's a pretty special feeling," Payton said when addressing the media after lifting the George Halas Trophy over his head.

Payton, saying more than once that he was struggling with his emotions, said the game was "kind of a blur right now."

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okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

and I mean that sincerely even as a crest-fallen Minnesota fan. So I confess if the following comes out badly.

I have all the respect in the world for the Saints (and their fans), who played a very hard, physical game (and never gave up), they also got (or "created" if you prefer) some good breaks. On the other hand, I have no respect whatsoever for the media punks who never gave the Vikings the respect they deserved, and who christened this one for New Orleans from the first, bad-mouthing the Vikings as little more than a vehicle for an "aging comeback boy". The talking neck-bubbles gave no respect to the Vikings ever, either against the Cowboys, who the Vikings abused decisively, or the Saints, who just barely won in this one in overtime, on a coin toss, and thanks to some favorable breaks in the end of the game. Yeah, the Vikings had their chances and didn't make it happen, that's also why they say, "any given Sunday". So, that's football, and now New Orleans is in the Super Bowl and I do wish them all the best luck in the world. I think they are pretty evenly matched with the Colts, so maybe a little gris-gris is needed?

So yeah, I'll also cheer for New Orleans over the Colts, New Orleans is a fabulous town and they (if any town does) deserves the win, but that won't diminish my belief that the best team in the game isn't in the Superbowl, and that team was the Minnesota Vikings.

Fredster's picture
Submitted by Fredster on

had to overcome a couple of bad calls themselves which didn't help. Note to referees: It's hard to stop 2 or 3 hundred pounds of running football player and try to put the brakes on because the quarterback released the ball. The Saints didn't deserve that one 15 yard penalty.

As a still displaced New Orleanian (from the burbs) I'm ecstatic that the Saints won. It has been a long time in the football wilderness for us and I'm happy we're headed to the Super Bowl.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I might even watch that overproduced game this time. Srsly.

Just wanted to join in and say: Thanks Sarah, for all your posts. American football isn't my thing, usually, but you have a way of writing about it. We wouldn't be the same without you. Hope you're well and doing well.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Not to single out Sarah--because almost everyone does it--but I hate how the New Orleans Saints are used as a triumph for New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, as if you have to like the Saints or you don't care about what happened. Its never explicitly stated, but that's what it feels like. And I'd rather more time be spent talking about the shit that still has to be done in New Orleans than that somehow the New Orleans' Saints winning makes up for the neglect. (I didn't like when Michigan used its college team in the same way either.) So that bothers me.

As a pure sports fan, I like the Colts. They don't rely on trick plays and exotic blitz packages to win. They win by precise execution (watch the route running by their receivers, watch their zone coverages on defense) and mastery of their own and their opponent's system (look how Manning adjusted to bring the Colts back eigh times this year when trailing in the second half). Don't get me wrong, its always fun to watch gadget plays work. But there is something about a team that lines up and says, "you know what I'm going to do, try and beat me." And Manning? C'mon. The guy is the best, probably ever--he made Brandon Stokely into a 1,000 yard receiver.

That said, they should have tried to beat the Jets in week 16. They most likely would have been 15-0 with one more drive by the starters. I can understand not playing starters in the horrible week 17 conditions in Buffalo, but not in the clear confines of a roofed Lucas Oil stadium.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

in general. Doesn't mean I don't still care about the devastation in NOLa, or along the whole of the Gulf Coast. Katrina tore up more than one city, and as far as I can tell none of them have been made whole yet.

Plus in Texas we had Rita and Ike after that, and things remain in a shambles; not to mention Pass Christian, or the Alabama coast. I wager not everything in Florida has yet returned to its pre-Andrew status, and that's been many, many years. None of which are a patch on Haiti.

But the Saints this year did something their fans have seldom had a chance to see before.
They just kept being the guys who didn't quit, and many weeks they found ways to win.
Archie Manning used to be their quarterback, and Bum Phillips used to be their coach.
Manning's boys, Peyton and Eli, are playing for richer teams with better mojo in bigger cities these days; and Phillips' boy, Wade, is coaching my 'Boys.

I do think Brett Favre ought to quit being a dog in the manger, though. Retire. Stay that way. While he still has all his faculties. The defenders next year won't be slower or smaller than Ayodele and McCrae were yesterday.