When I moved to New Orleans in 2009, the Saints were on their way to the Super Bowl. It was a magical time to be a Saints fan as the whole Who Dat Nation seemed lifted by team spirit. Though I saw the team in the Victory Parade and Drew Brees rode as the King of Bacchus in their parade, I never actually saw the Saints play in the Dome that season. From the next season on, I’ve attended most home games and in 2014, we became season ticket holders. This year started off on a whole new level – ground level. My husband won 3 of the 4 fantasy football leagues he entered and among the many prizes he won were field passes for the preseason game against the Patriots.
In my lifetime, I’ve sat on the 50 yard line, the press booth and in the owners booth, but I’ve never gone on the field. We wandered the inards of the stadium, made our way past hundreds of mini-Saintsations and spilled out onto the field with the other visitors. The first thing we did was find our seats – way up high. The opposing team had the field so I enjoyed looking around to find returning super-fans until our guys took the field.
It was exciting watching the new guys like Snead and Grayson getting their footing but it was a thrill to watch our returning warriors take the field. Among the crowd favorites were Morstead, Cooks, Robinson, Strief and, of course, Drew Brees. They ran drills, worked their particular skill sets, stretched, did yoga poses then gathered for the team huddle and chant.
We made our way back through the adorable girls waiting to perform and up and up and up to our level. We were delighted to find our corner had gotten an overhaul between seasons adding a Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane booth, a barbecue booth, a po-boy stand and a bread pudding stand with both sweet and savory puddings. We had our usual jambalaya, the pulled pork po-boy and a chocolate almond bread pudding.
Preseason games are not only a good warm up for the team (and the best way to test new talent), they serve as a warm-up for the fans as well. We did the wave, all the claps and dances and screamed on opposing 3rd downs. Once again, they attempted to find a substitute for our post-touchdown Crunk song. Trombone Shorty’s Hurricane Season was the only one worth trying but most people didn’t know it was an audience participation song. Too many of the songs all night were 80’s hair band type stuff that made me feel like I was in Philly or Jersey and kept fans in their seats. I can only hope the DJ was paying attention to the crowd reactions and adjusts before regular season.
Even though preseason wins and losses don’t count, it would’ve been more fun to win. That said, I’ve got my toenails painted black with gold fleur de lis, my Who Dat jewelry polished and my Saints’ wardrobe ready for another great season of football. It feels a bit auspicious to have started the season with the rare treat of watching our team eye level.