The victory by the New Orleans Saints, 31-17 over the Colts of Indiana in the 44th Super Bowl in NFL history, was frankly a sight to behold both in Miami and in New Orleans. Eruptions of joy and euphoria of the highest degree has overtaken New Orleans for the last three days. With Mardi Gras rolling along, the Super Bowl victory party and Mardi Gras have melded into one big We Love New Orleans Festival. There is certainly nothing wrong with that and I think many locals would give you a look and say…we deserve this one. Can’t really disagree with that. Anyone who has ever rooted for the hapless Saints deserves this one. And we never want it to end.
As the seconds clicked down on the Saints dominating, invigorating, full of heart and guts comeback victory, it’s funny the things that come to mind. For some reason I thought of the first time the Saints had a chance just to make the playoffs in 1983. I was in my older brothers car, he was driving me somewhere, and we were listening to the end of the Saints-Rams game. Saints win, they make the playoffs for the first time ever. Of course the Saints lose on a last second field goal. Of course they had given up TWO interception returns for touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown to get to the point of losing at the last second. That’s what Saints fans expected. Find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My other thought drifted to September 25th, 2006. The return to the dome. I was there for that one too and that victory over Atlanta was the starting point for this Saints team bringing New Orleans it’s first professional world championship.
What does it all really mean though? Can a world championship in a professional sport change New Orleans for the better? Can it fill the pot-holes and rebuild the houses and parks and businesses that all are in need of rebuilding? Can it turn inept politicians into politicians who lead by example? Does a world championship end the years of frustration from the citizens when it comes to a racial divide?
Of course, a championship does not solve any of those issues. Trophy’s don’t hammer nails or magically turn a bigot into a diverse human being. But New Orleans and frankly America in general would be wrong to just dismiss this as another sports team winning a championship and moving on to the next big story. What these Saints showed is that a commitment by everyone, putting your own personal needs to the side maybe, to accomplish something bigger than themselves can be done. When everyone is on the same page, focused on the same goal, this Saints victory shows that nothing is impossible.
The Saints have done their part. They showed the path to greatness. Teamwork, accountability, passion, faith and trust in each other. Now it’s time for the citizens of this great city to come together and carry the banner from here. The Saints did their part, now it’s time for us to make it really matter.