It’s been almost 12 hours, but the shock has still not completely worn off.
Or maybe it’s just my mind and body trying to get back to some semblance of normal after experiencing almost four hours of what was a roller coaster of emotions consisting primarily of terror and anxiety, interrupted occasionally by bursts of excitement. Only to be followed by attempts to keep that nauseous sense of dread from taking over the ride.
Yes, the New Orleans Saints are headed to the Superbowl.
There, they will meet New Orleans-native son Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Yes, that same Peyton Manning who grew up watching his father, quarterback Archie Manning, staring up at the roof of the Superdome more often than not on Sunday afternoons — as the New Orleans Saints of another era were routinely pummeled by opposing teams.
Did I ever possess an “Aint’s Bag”? Of course I did. Yours truly can remember many a game in the Superdome where I, along with a group of close pals, would drag in boxes of Popeye’s Fried Chicken, along with the requisite strategically hidden stashes of liquid additives for our Coca-Colas, up to the nosebleed seats in the Terrace level in the Louisiana Superdome. Then, almost without fail, we would masochistically endure yet another heart-breaking loss by the then-hapless boys in the black and gold.
But not before we had made our hands sore and red from banging on the aluminum panels that cover the walls in the upper deck of the stadium. They made a huge racket.
And not before we had completely lost our voices.
But for some strange reason, we never lost our faith.
Faith in the team, and, well, in the city itself. And trust me, living in New Orleans will test your faith every single day — in one way or another.
In fact, the game last night? Long periods of anxiety interrupted by bursts of over-the-top happiness, overlaid with this huge sense of dread that threatens to take over at any time? Yep. That’s is essentially the metaphor for what it means to live in the city.
As I tell a lot of people — it’s just too damn complicated to explain. But once you experience it, you’re doomed. Nothing else ever comes close.
You might as well face it — you are going to be hearing a lot about New Orleans from the usual press sources over the next two weeks. Please be patient. Let the folks who still call the city home — let them enjoy their time in the sun. They more than deserve it.
Besides, think of what the alternative would have been. Instead of learning what it means to “Second Line,” what a truly great guy Drew Brees is in every sense of the word, and how you make barbecued shrimp from Mr. B’s, you could be watching film clips of pine trees in Kiln, Mississippi, and yet another interview of a deliberately pensive Brett Favre, as he talks about how whether the Superbowl will be his last game or not.
Brett, it really is now time to go ride that tractor. Ride, baby, ride.
And how ’bout the young man who calmly booted that winning field goal in overtime? Garrett Hartley is a product of that Texas high school football powerhouse that sits just down the road from the Worldwide Headquarters — Southlake Carroll High School.
I mean, what else can one ask for?
Well, I guess I could ask for someone else to come in my office today and finish writing this mega-earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter that is sitting on my computer — so I could just crawl the net and read all the stories I can find about the game. And continue to wallow in the warmth of the win.
But alas, duty calls. Subscribers, this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter will be posted later today. Talk to you then.
The New Orleans Saints.
I’m too nervous to write much. Headline says it all.
For those of you who are Phoenix Cardinal fans who I’ve got bets with on the outcome of the game today — get ready to pay up.
Talk to you guys later.
“I don’t think about how good we’ve been,” Brees said. “I think about how good we can be.”
Last night the now 11-0 New Orleans Saints systematically demolished the New England Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome 38-17. Drew Brees, above, threw five touchdown passes as he threw for a season high total 371 yards. His passer rating? 158.3 — which is technically a perfect rating.
This is the first time in NFL history that we have had two teams with 11-0 records — the Indianapolis Colts being the other team that currently remains undefeated. (And yes, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that a New Orleans native, Peyton Manning leads that powerful offensive machine.)
Trying to explain the relationship between the New Orleans Saints and the city itself is not an easy thing to do. That relationship became even more emotional after Hurricane Katrina, when then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the NFL swooped into the city and essentially told Saints owner Tom Benson — “You’re not moving this team.”
The NFL then proceeded to work behind the scenes to assist with the refurbishment of the Louisiana Superdome.
That next season, against a backdrop of many naysayers who never thought it would ever happen, the Saints took the field at the Superdome again. On ESPN Monday Night Football. The game was against the Atlanta Falcons. The game’s opening act? Bono and U2. The mood of the city? Electric. Emotional. Really, really, emotional.
I didn’t think I’d see a game played in that stadium again that would ever come up to the same level of emotional intensity as that one — ever. But last night came pretty damn close.
Because you see, what people don’t understand is that through all the heartache, the pain, and the suffering the city of New Orleans endured during that period of time following the storm, the Saints were something that we all could look at — as a symbol of how the city could return. Would return. All was not lost. There was going to be a better tomorrow after all.
That season, which started with that special game, was magical. One of those things that we see happen in sports every once in awhile. Andre Agassi’s last hurrah at the U.S. Open. An injured Kirk Gibson rounding the bases in the bottom of the ninth of the 1988 World Series. It’s those moments that make sports worth watching.
That season wasn’t about X’s and O’s. It was about a team that played week in and week out on a current of raw emotion — theirs and that of their fans.
Week after week as people tried to rebuild their homes and their lives, as electricity came and went, as basic services remained unavailable, as people in other parts of the country wondered in public just why it was that the city deserved any help at all — the Saints were, oftentimes, the only positive thing that many people had to hold onto in their lives.
The Saints made it all the way to the NFC Championship game that year.
After all was said and done, Drew Brees had found a new home. Bill Parcell’s old protege Sean Peyton clearly had what it took to be a great head coach. And New Orleans’ Saints fans felt like they finally had the nucleus of an honest-to-god championship caliber football team.
Last night — on national television — that championship team we in New Orleans saw born out of a city in ruins was suddenly there. In person. On the field. On my television screen. Making Tom Brady and the New England Patriots regret they had ever shown up.
As sportscaster Al Michaels’ exclaimed when covering the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team’s victory over the USSR, “Do you believe in miracles? “
Yes, sir. I do.
For the last three weeks I’ve faced the dilemma that many of you are familiar with. Because I no longer live in the NFL television coverage area of my favorite NFL team, the only other alternative (until now) has been to shell out big bucks for the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package.
The package offers every NFL game played — anywhere you live. As long as you are hooked up to DirecTV and pay the big bucks for the package itself.
Well, the first problem is that I don’t have DirecTV.
One of the best things about moving to the DFW area this year was the fact that I got to hook up with Verizon FIOS at the new Worldwide Headquarters.
But — this choice then complicated the watching options as football season neared.
Or so I thought.
What Verizon does have is NFL Network. I am not here to get into a long discussion about how this issue is all so very warped — with the NFL itself going up against DirecTV, which has exclusive rights to the NFL’s own “Sunday Ticket” package.
This is a very volatile and angry debate. Especially for those cable customers who have access to neither. Like our subscription manager who is forced to settle for Time-Warner over in Las Colinas. No NFL Network, no Sunday Ticket. But because of where his apartment is located — no satellite either.
No, that debate is for another day.
What I am here to do is to give the NFL Network’s new “Red Zone” channel a big thumbs up. For only $49.95, I now get full coverage of all NFL games played on Sundays. The coverage consists of the network bouncing back and forth between all the games being played — showing you the highlights only. Goal-line stands, runbacks, attempts to score, long down-the-field passes. Whatever.
After one half of football today — I simply love it. I have been able to watch my beloved New Orleans Saints run and pass all over the Detroit Lions. Drew Brees has never looked better. Oh, and yes, Reggie Bush has never looked worse. But that’s not anything new. What a bust he’s turned out to be.
I haven’t missed one major play from the game. I haven’t missed one major play from any other game either. But I don’t really care about those. But still — it’s cool to see them.
So for those of you who are in the same boat as I am — don’t think that the expensive DirecTV “Sunday Ticket” package is the only deal in town.
If you get NFL Network, check out the “Red Zone.”
It’s pretty cool.
Okay, I’m going back to work on this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter.
And oh, yes, the second half of the Saints-Lions game. 😉