Went to my first Saints game of the season last night and was reminded of how much I love football season. Though I didn’t attend the festivities, today was also Mid-Season Mardi Gras, the halfway point until the next Mardi Gras. I must confess that, about 3 weeks ago, I started getting excited for Carnival and hoping it would arrive soon. I was reminded that football season would be starting and would carry us through right up to Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl. How ingenious. Just at the moment when it feels like it’s been too long since our city was celebrating, the Saints return.
I’ve watched the last preseason games at home. Like everyone else in town, I still suit up with Who Dat gear, but nothing compares to the energy of the Superdome. Just walking to the Dome is enough to make any “12th Man” fan ready to cheer on the team. People from all directions converge on Poydras Street and make their way past people selling fan-gear and cold beers. Some unfortunate construction workers had to work on a beautiful Saturday but I spotted a shiny new Saints jersey under one of their reflective vests.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Rebirth statue. On Sept. 25, 2006, the Saints returned to the Superdome for the first time since Katrina. No one really knew who Sean Payton was or his find, Drew Brees. There was a concert featuring U2, Greenday, Rebirth, New Birth and Trombone Shorty. After that, no one expected much other than to be entertained by their beloved “Aints.”
On the 4th play of the game, Saints’ Safety Steve Gleason, in a spectacular move, broke through and blocked a punt and Cornerback Curtis DeLoatch ran the ball into the Falcons’ end zone. From every account I’ve ever heard, it was the loudest moment in our infamously loud history.The crowd went bananas as they realized something new was happening. The moment turned the tides to a 24-3 victory and the beginning of an amazing season of Rebirth for the team, the Dome the fans and the region.
Because life is not fair, Gleason has since been diagnosed with A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Watching him on the TV today being interviewed brought tears. He continues to inspire. Not only is he an amazing human being with an enviable attitude, he’s also a new dad and the founder of Team Gleason, a foundation striving to help those with A.L.S. He and his blocked punt have been immortalized in a recently unveiled statue entitled “Rebirth.” I love it.
Our seats were in the special needs seating so we had tons of room to Stand Up and Get Crunk. The substitute referees are really beginning to get on my nerves and I can only hope the league straightens this all out before it matters. That said, it was so great to be at a game, surrounded by longtime season ticket holders, friends and neighbors. By far, the best moment was when the Saints, down by 2 touchdowns, made a touchdown and we all got to dance. Then, moments later, they got the ball back and made another touchdown! I had barely finished sitting down. It was amazing. Then, somewhere in the midst of all of that, I saw a woman on the Jumbotron Dance-cam and noticed she was wearing the same shirt I was. The ball was kicked and the screen went black before I realized – hey, that was me!
I have been privileged enough to have appeared on big screens all over the world for years but I have never even dreamed that I would appear on the big screen in the Dome! My friend (who did wardrobe on Django Unchained) spotted me and texted. How fun.
The only upside to not being a season ticket holder (it’s easier to get Willy Wonka’s golden ticket) is that, since you sit in a different section each time, you get to meet new people at every game. It would be great to know all my seat neighbors but it’s fun jumping right in and crashing their parties. This time, the people we met were also new to the section. The guys sitting next to us were brothers, a 12 year old attending his first game and another much older who was waxing nostalgic about sitting in the same section as a kid. He hadn’t been to a game in years and was excited to finally get to Stand Up and Get Crunk in the Dome, though he assured me he did it in his living room after every touchdown.
The Saints enjoyed a 34-27 victory over the Texans and we all walked back in our million directions ready for the season to begin.
Favorite new sign – DrewBreesiana