I’ve long been a Saints fan, though never so much into football. I never really watched the games, though some football-crazed exes have coaxed me into watching a few. As Sis teases me, I’ve watched more football this one season than I have the rest of my life combined. And not just willingly, but eagerly.
You can understand a lot about New Orleans (and Louisiana) if you understand the adoration and devotion we feel for our Saints. They are emblems of everything that we as a city are capable of and so rarely achieve. This city is amazing and utterly unique, but our flaws seem too massive and, often fatal, for us to overcome. The Saints remind us that with conviction, we can overcome and endure.
I was on Saint Charles Avenue, in a pub, for the Championship Game. I held hands with a (cute) perfect stranger during Hartley’s momentous field goal. Rounds of such enthusiastic full-body hugs ensued that I worried I’d chipped a tooth. It didn’t matter if we knew each other. We spun each other from embrace to embrace indiscriminately. Then, we spilled onto the street to watch the streams of fans returning from the Super Dome, everybody laying on their horns and shouting. People ran up to passing cars and slapped hands with the people inside. And then we went to the Quarter… you have never seen celebration like that night. I haven’t, at least. I heard one person liken it to the celebration after the end of WWII was announced, at least as far as they could tell from those iconic photographs.
Last night, I was with my neighbors. Before the clock had ticked down to 0 and after Tracey Porter had performed his 74 yard miracle, somebody said reverently, “We just won the SuperBowl.” No one hushed him superstitiously. We all knew it was true. We had just won the SuperBowl. The Saints, New Orleans, each and every one of us had won the SuperBowl.
There was no need for the Quarter (and almost no way to get there), because Magazine Street was a chaotic, impromptu parade. We tumbled out into the night and into the crazy, shouting alongside everyone else. There were firecrackers, cops, singing and honking horns everywhere. Kissing and hugging. Jumping and dancing. The #11 bus came by and there was a short, collective pause and then most of the crowd swarmed the bus so that it had to come to a standstill. The crowd pounded on the windows, shouting to the driver and dancing passengers inside, who were all smiling and shouting back.
Illegal and dangerous? Yes. But it was a happy riot.
Check out the pictures, below. Apologies for how dark they are – they were taken on my phone (yes, the same one that got buried in the sand a while back).
Here are some thoughts from friends on Facebook, to put things in perspective:
…and so, there was much joy in Whoville. On that February night, the City of NO became the city of YES!!! (Maurice Ruffin)
…is pretty sure that life will never be the same again.
…must be dreaming! THE SAINTS JUST WON THE FREAKING SUPERBOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ronlyn said: Dear Saints, Thank you for making my grandfather a happy, happy man. He’s not resting in peace tonight. She linked to a wonderful, wonderful Nervous Breakdown piece that truly encapsulates the feeling in the city today (which should be made a state holiday, or at least a city one, Mr. New Mayor).
Today, people are still passionately crying out WHO DAT! Many have been saying it for 42 years and there isn’t any way we’re stopping any time soon.