I love the Saints. This is my 6th or so season of having season tix, and I love going to the games, I love the lovable loser image (but winning is indeed more fun), I love the spirit of having something for my neighbors and friends and strangers to rally around… I love it all. And Monday’s whooping of the Falcons was perfect. The weather, the crowd, the mood, all of it. And we played like pros. That’s what we aren’t used to. This season we’ve been making fewer mistakes and taking advantage of other teams’ mistakes. It’s great. I’m not predicting SuperBowl or anything, but Payton clearly has their attention, Brees is a proven leader, and Bush, Deuce, Horn, Colston(!), Grant, Fujita, and the rest of the guys have the right attitude and talent to do some nice things this year. But everyone else is covering the game, so let me talk about the coverage of the game.
Simply put, ESPN did us right. I’ve been screaming for someone in the national press to express the ambivalence of the situation here, and these guys actually did it. They talked about the misery and how much stuff is ruined, population loss and the rest. They did it by describing their own trips around the whole city. But they also talked about how much has happened and how much we need people to come down and do spend some money. It was exactly the right tone. It’s tragic, it’s devastating, but it’s open for business and a great place to be. Thanks, ESPN.
Even Joe Theismann, probably my least favorite sportscaster after Steve Young, paid us a fair tribute and coaxed a little more commentary out of Spike. It was beautiful when Spike said he wasn’t going to pull a Kanye, he was pulling a Kanye. Nicely done. And then Theismann asked him to say whether his sense was the more should be done, Spike’s simple “yes” said a lot, and I was relieved that Joe didn’t go into some conservative defense of what’s already been done. No, instead, everyone’s comments were dead on.
For some reason, it’s difficult for me to listen to other people comment on the situation (I mean press people, or often the people they interview) because I always want to change their wording or interject a qualifier. ESPN’s coverage was one of the few things that didn’t give me that feeling. The interviews with Spike, Archie, and Harry were wonderful, and they conveyed what a beautiful place we have, even as it’s hurting so much right now.
That all made for a stellar night, and I agree with the convention bureau who said that this was basically a free 6-hour commercial. Not bad, especially in light of the fact that it was the 2nd highest rated cable show ever. ESPN could have taken the typical easy road and talk only about the spirit of recovery, so America can stop worrying about us, or they could have taken the easy road and talk about how we’re completely obliterated (last year’s MNF quote was “absolutely no infrastructure”). Neither approach would have done us any favors or been accurate.
So thanks ESPN, and to all the people of New Orleans who have been working so hard to make the hope real, despite the backdrop of so much left to be done.