Black and Gold Super Bowl

I don’t know how to begin to explain what I witnessed Sunday night. So many people waited so long for this. Former players, coaches, executives, journalists and fans have passed away waiting. I was able to see what so many longed for over the years.

Think about former Saints general manager Jim Finks and his first head coach in New Orleans, Jim Mora. The two of them originally got the franchise back on track, even though it would derail again years later. Think about former coach Jim Haslett who admirably guided the team through hell during the vagabond season of 2005.

Think about longtime New Orleans sportscaster Buddy Diliberto who promised for decades he’d wear a dress if the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl. Five years after his death they made it.

Think about former Saints players Dave Waymer, Frank Warren, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Steve Trapilo and Tony Elliot who all passed away in recent years.

Think about former players who have meant so much to the franchise, players like Bobby Hebert, Deuce McAllister, Dalton Hilliard, Archie Manning, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson, Sam Mills, Sammy Knight, Brad Edelman, Morten Andersen, Stan Brock, Hoby Brenner, Joe Horn, Willie Roaf, Danny Abramowicz, Eric Martin and some I’m probably leaving out.

A record crowd of 71,276 brought 43 years of pent-up frustration and broken dreams to the Superdome and unleashed it with mad fury on the Minnesota Vikings. The Dome was the loudest I’ve ever heard it. On the Vikings’ first play from scrimmage, my ears were literally ringing. I turned to my wife to tell her I’d never heard the dome that loud and she couldn’t hear me. The noise didn’t let up all game. Nearly every person there was standing for most of the fourth quarter.

The Saints defense was huge. It gave up big chunks of yards and didn’t register a sack, but it harassed 40-year-old Brett Favre into several rushed throws and two interceptions. Favre was hobbled for much of the second half, first taking a hard shot to the chest then absorbing a high-low hit that left the gritty vet writhing in pain and clutching his left ankle on the Superdome turf. Minnesota committed five turnovers, the most in a game all season. Still, the Vikings were in it until the end…of regulation.

The Saints won the toss and Favre’s Vikings never saw the ball again.

Brett Favre’s final pass as a Green Bay Packer was an interception in the 2007-08 NFC Championship game. Favre’s final pass Sunday night was an interception. It could very well end up being the final pass of his career.

Brett Favre had the best season of his long career in his first year with the Vikings, but in the end Reckless Brett replaced Conservative Brett and he snatched defeat from the hands of victory.

The defense won the game for the Saints, but make no mistake, there was divine intervention at work inside the Superdome. How else to explain Reggie Bush muffing a punt, Minnesota recovering near the goal line and Favre and running back Adrian Peterson botching a handoff on the next play to give the ball back to the Saints. Or the late-game penalty on the Vikings for 12 men in the huddle, which ultimately took the Vikings out of field goal range and led to Favre’s ill-advised throw on 3rd and 15.

Before 23-year-old kicker Garrett Hartley kicked the 40-yard field goal that sent the Saints to their first Super Bowl, complete silence fell over the Dome. People were holding hands and had their arms around each other. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about the miss in the Tampa game. Some couldn’t bring themselves to watch.

After the ball split the uprights, strangers hugged strangers and people were high-fiving in the aisles. I saw an elderly lady gettin’ crunk. Outside, people were shooting fireworks on Loyola Avenue and singing “The Saints are Coming” at Allegro. Chants of “Who Dat” could be heard every few seconds bouncing between downtown buildings. People were sobbing.

Thank you, Sean Payton for coming to New Orleans (and for paying Gregg Williams $250,000 out of your own pocket to get him here this season).

Thank you, Drew Brees for seeing something bigger than a football team here.

And, most important, thank you, Saints. You sustained the city’s heart when it was broken and gave people something to cheer about. And they never cheered louder than they did Sunday night.

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Comments

  1. As a kid growing up with relatives along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, I got to witness plenty of heartache, frustration, and pure misery that Saints fans had grown accustomed to. A few glimmers of promise poked through the shadows over recent years, finally leading to this season, and this past Sunday.

    In Kansas City, I watched the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings, 4 tables lined up with Saints fans. We saw each other through cheers and screams, groans and near-heart attacks. After Hartley’s FG, many of us had tears in our eyes. Finally, this team is on their way to the big one.

    Regardless of what happens in Miami, I’m proud of this team, and everything that they, and the city of New Orleans, represent. GEAUX SAINTS.

  2. WOW just WOW!! I swear we could hear the crowd all the way here in Mobile, and you could hear a pin drop in the Dome before that final kick..Amazing game Amazing Team, and even more the Amazing Adoring Fans..I heard from friends there that Newspapers proclaiming the victory were laid at gravesites yesterday.

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