Today I’m offering a rare guest post by my friend David. Take it away, man.
B, I agree with all your points, but as someone who grew up here, the win means even more.
We all know that historically the Saints were a lousy team. The first Saints game I attended was in the 1980 season, when the Saints posted a 1-15 record, a record that remained the NFL’s worst until last season’s Detroit team went 0-16. The Saints went decades without a winning season followed by thirteen years in which they could not win a playoff game, modest accomplishments that are pro forma for most teams. Before Katrina, I frequently said, “Being a Saints fan is like trying to convince yourself you’re in love with a woman who’s been sleeping around on you; you know, sooner or later, you’re going to be let down.” By any empirical basis, on an intuitive level, the Saints’ winning the Super Bowl was simply impossible.
New Orleans’ culture possesses a unique ability to transmute disappointment into some kind of celebration, and so we did with the Saints. We wore our paper bags in the Superdome and turned our embarrassment into a hilarious, iconic joke. But we settled. We settled for less, for a real embarrassment. New Orleans does possess qualities that are precious and entirely too rare, chief among them are wildly creative imaginations, sublime beauty, and a humbling, profound love for this place. But the dark side of our city’s joyous resilience is that we’re willing to settle for less — from our government, from our corporations, from our civic discourse.
We all know that the Saints’ victory “means more than football.” In fact, it matters very little to me that the Saints beat the Colts or that they stand on top of the nation’s most prestigious sports league or that sports fans the world over are in love with our team. The reason my eyes well up when I think about the Super Bowl is because our team achieved something truly grand, despite every challenge, circumstance and history that would have excused them for settling for less.
So we have witnessed a sports champion becoming a people’s champion. Entrenched mindsets have fallen away; insufferable difficulties have been overcome. And now I cannot help but dream and dream big, of the city’s overcoming its oldest embarrassment, the ethnic divisions between her citizens created by their economic exploitation. We caught a glimpse of it every Sunday in the Superdome as the Who Dat Nation stood shoulder-to-shoulder, regardless of race, to rock the Dome in one voice. My dream is that, in this city of passionate love, each New Orleanian comes to love all New Orleanians and view the plight of their neighbors as the plight of their beloved city. Of course, fate handed us a new mayor on the eve of this victory, one who fortunately made unity his mantra. My dream is that, in this city of such imagination and creativity, we imagine and create a government and society based on economic and social justice. Such accomplishments are harder than winning a Super Bowl. Many would say they’re impossible. But Sunday, the Saints showed us that impossible is nothing.
Well said. I’m a lifelong resident and was never a football fan. In fact, it took me 31 years to watch an entire Saints game. The victory did mean a lot to the city, and I could feel it even as a newcomer to the game. With all the talk of civic duty, the thing that nags on my mind is also the same thing that gave me such a negative outlook of the game over the years… After the Saints victory the game before the Superbowl, an announcer asked Benson “I bet you’re glad you kept the Saints in New Orleans.” Talk about raining on your parade… The millions of dollars our legislators promised Benson to keep the team here is sickening after having been through the worst experience imaginable. Fits well with your partner who sleeps around analogy. So despite the elation I have, I often suppress questions of whether anything other than the Saints could have brought this city together the way it has over my lifetime. Would the victory had felt as great without disaster? I wonder if we had invested in quality of life over sports would we be better off, or can we actually have both? Our city proves that faith can be both a curse and a blessing, and I hope the Benson folks don’t take advantage of us in a period of joy.
ROX #26 J&B Get Sick is on the air as we speak!