In a well-played upset, the Seattle Seahawks ended the Saints bid for this year’s Super Bowl and our chances at a 2 Dat. After the game, I put my black and gold knit cap and scarf over my Who Dat jewelry and Saints shirt and headed down to Bourbon Street to share my pride and disappointment with the city. People were surprisingly upbeat. Not dancing in the streets like last year, but upbeat.
It’s not just because people here aren’t sore losers, it’s because the Saints had a great season, one of their 3 best ever. And for a team with no one to run the ball due to injuries and a defense worn out by spending far too much time on the field, we did what we could. And we still won the Super Bowl last year – no loss can take that away. And, for myself, if we had to lose, at least it was to a team my friend is involved with, a team with the largess to let me stand in their owner’s booth in black and gold, shouting Who Dats and getting Crunk. And the Seahawks are a team Saints fans can appreciate. They’re the first team to ever enter the playoffs with a losing record, they’re the underdogs who don’t have a shot in hell of winning. But, as the Saints proved, anything can happen. I hope they have as magical a journey as our underdog team did last year.
I comforted myself the next day by watching Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, a movie about a man, a nation and an underdog team. The movie reminded me of all the lessons the Saints taught me, that anything is possible, that sports can unify and uplift a community, and that there is no greater reward a leader can receive than to see their citizens dancing in the streets. Mandela used his country’s embarrassingly bad rugby team (the Saints used to be called the Aint’s) to unify and heal his nation after too many years of division and trauma. As a result, his nation prospered economically. What a great idea – unify and become stronger rather than divide against ourselves over issues that can’t possibly be more important than the overall strength of a unified nation.
I’m sure there were many fans waiting at the airport to thank our boys for a season well played. There were too many injuries this year for us to have gone much further, but they did their best, they finished strong. By the next day, the local stations were already running ads thanking the team and wishing them luck next season.
The Who Dat Nation is unified by our love for the Saints. Cops and criminals, rich and poor, old and young, Black and White, male and female, Democrat and Republican – everyone here watches the Saints. I’ve never seen another city (and state) where almost everyone wears team colors and logos on game day, even the priests. Not even in the movies.