My parents were born in Louisiana and met at LSU. They remain LSU fans, but my father became a fan of the Redskins after moving to the D.C. area before my birth. When I was a small child, he propped me in front of the TV and asked me to tell him what happened while he attended to other things. Maybe it was initially to please my dad, but I fell in love with football and a Redskins fan was born. In the 80’s, I lost interest in the game then moved to L.A. for 18 years, where they didn’t have a team. When I moved to New Orleans in 2009, the Saints were undefeated and on their way to the Super Bowl. I was buying sundries at Walgreens when I noticed my cashier had 10-0 painted on her face with a fleur de lis. I used to paint my face, wear my colors and love my team and her face ignited my love of football again.
The city was in full Who Dat fever when I arrived and it was easy to get caught up in the thrill of it all. But, not wanting to press the point, I didn’t watch the Saints game against the Skins that year. The Saints have avoided playing the Redskins again until this year’s season opener so this was my first time cheering against my former home team. Though it was definitely not Drew Brees’ best day and the team fluctuated between acts of heroism and desperation and moments of squandered opportunity, my heart was never divided. I’ve been accused of bleeding black and gold and I’m going to have to confess it may be true.
The Saints haven’t lost a regular season game in the Superdome since 2010 so we were in great spirits walking to the venue. The air had a slight cool snap to it, hinting that summer is ending. The season opener brought out all the super fans. We passed Fleur-D-Licious riding down Bourbon Street getting the party started and the couple who wear the giant blingy Super Bowl rings on their heads while in line for beer at Champions Square. The popes and bishops were there and Saints Boba Fett as well as Moo Dat, the golden cow man, and Fleur de Lis Face. Though I didn’t see him, I’m sure Whistle Monsta was there as well.
As the game got underway, they unfurled our latest banner – NFC South Champions 2011. The recently redeemed Vilma came onto the field to lead our post coin toss rounds of Who Dats. The Saints made their share of mistakes but the temporary refs have made the game excruciating and potentially dangerous. In case you think I’m just spitting sour grapes, check out some of their resumés which include middle school gym teacher and ref for the Lingerie Bowl. Though our stadium got fed up and felt moved to start chanting “Bullshit” once we passed the point of patiently frustrated, we weren’t the only team feeling the incompetence. The Seattle Seahawks game was marked by a ref allowing a fourth timeout with 30 seconds left in the game and one team in the red zone. Anyone who watched a game yesterday had to throw their hands up at some point.
In my years as a Redskins fan, I only attended one game. Back then, the fans were sometimes like an angry mob. They boo’ed as their star quarterback, record-breaking Super Bowl-winning Joe Theismann took the field. I was taken aback. The crowd was almost entirely male and many of them wore pig noses to honor the “Hogs,” their offensive line’s nickname in the 1980’s. It was fun, but I felt I never returned. The Saints fans may have been stunned at Drew’s bad day, but no one boo’ed and our fans reflect our city – male, female, seniors, toddlers, gay, straight, and all ethnicities.
I’ll admit it hurt to lose. It sucks not having a coach. Though the defensive players are back on the field, Payton and Vitt remain banned. Though we had no leadership, we were all sort of shocked by the loss. But, being a fan isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about love. I may have been born a Skins fan but I will die a Saints fan. Who Dat!?!
I didn’t bring my camera but enjoy these photos from other folks.