Who Dat, Indeed.
I've uttered the words "Saints" and "Super Bowl" in the same sentence plenty of times in my life. "The Saints have never been to the Super Bowl" is a popular one. It's truly remarkable. This city has become electric. This city has become one. NOPD announced that there were no violent crimes before, during, or after the game last night. It's sad that that has to be news, but it truly is amazing. For half a day, we put aside everything and rallied around the same thing.
New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind city. We've got more than our fair share of problems, that's for certain, but we've got a charm that no other city in the world can begin to imagine. And no matter what adversity we've faced, there's always been one thing that has tied the fabric of this city together: our Saints. As far as I see it, there is only one type of Saints fan, and that's the diehard. Even during the bag-head days, the fans were still at the games, hoping for the best. Even when we called them the Ain'ts, we watched the games, hoping for the best. When it took 20 years for them to make the playoffs, the fans watched and hoped for the best.
And last night, we watched the game and hoped for the best, all while biting our nails and checking our pulses. And for the first time in history, our hoping and wishing finally paid off.
People exploded in joy when Hartly so casually put the ball through the uprights. People hugged complete strangers. Tears were shed. Fireworks for launched. People lost voices. A constant tone of horns honking resonated throughout the city as people honked with joy.
Last night was something that not only the team deserved, but something New Orleans deserved and needed. This win, this joy, has nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina. This win and this joy means so much to the city of New Orleans because after 43 years of waiting, we finally got our first Super Bowl appearance.
The city has been blanketed in Black and Gold (capitalized, out of reverence) for over a week. Professionals walk through the CBD with Brees and Colston jerseys with their sport-coats on over them. Schools and business have forgone uniforms and dress codes to allow people to wear anything Saints. "Who dat?" has replaced "hello" as the preferred greeting.
Before the game Sunday, the city had a friendly vibe about it. It felt like Mardi Gras. The city was crawling with New Orleanians and visitors alike, wandering the streets and enjoying the gorgeous weather and our fantastic city.
No, this win didn't signify the struggle this city went through after Hurricane Katrina. To say that winning this game helped heal the Katrina wounds would belittle exactly what Katrina did to this city. The Saints have done so much for this city—from player-run charities to boosting our economy, to boosting our emotions—but reversing such a horrible event is not one of them. This win may be a band-aid to make us ignore the fact that we're missing 15% of our population, or that there's 1000s of empty lots where homes once stood, or that our local politicians are some of the most corrupt in the country, or that our school system is lackluster (to say the least).
We love our New Orleans Saints. We love this town. Nothing can take away the excitement and happiness we feel today.
Not Vikings fans claiming the officials were on our side, despite our 100+ yards in penalties.
Not Vikings fans saying that we only won because of their failures, despite the fact that that's how ever game is won.
And not the national media focusing on Favrealmostmaking it to the Super Bowl, despite the fact that we actually have made it to the Super Bowl for the first time in history.
And not even if we lost the Super Bowl in February. The fact that those boys finally brought us an NFC championship and are taking us to the Bowl is more than enough for the lot of us.
Of course, that Lombardi trophy sure would look great in Drew's hands in Bacchus.