Yesterday, I posted a GO SAINTS! blurb on my Facebook wall, which prompted mockery from a good friend of mine who knows me well. He knows I’m not a sports gal; he knows that in particular I’m not a football fan. He knows I have lived for so long so far away from the US that it’s hard for me to wrap my head or heart around this most central of American winter traditions, the Superbowl. And yet, what he surely must also know (because he knows me so well) is that rooting for the New Orleans Saints is about more than football.
It’s about any kind of triumph in this post-Katrina world.
It’s about rallying around a battle cry behind folks as different as Aaron Neville, Young Jeezy and K. Gates.
It’s about standing up to the man and wearing your Who Dat t-shirt with pride.
It’s about the king cake recipe that a long-lost New Orleans friend has just emailed me and the black roux simmering in the Rhode Island kitchen of yet another friend, thought to be lost to me forever until very recently.
It’s about believing in the notion of the Kingfish, that however corrupt our politicians and cynical our citizens, we can still uphold the idea of “every man a king” as something worth aspiring to.
And, of course, because it is about a particularly American obsession, it’s also about football, and the simple facts of this team’s recent wins against the backdrop of a career that began ignominiously with one losing streak after another back in the 1960s and 70s and well into the 80s: that 2009 has been the Saints’ best season ever; that the November 30 game against the New England Patriots marked a record 11-0 tally for the first time in franchise history and became the second highest rated cable program to date; that their win over the Atlanta Falcons set the record for the longest undefeated season opening (13-0) by an NFC team since the AFL-NFL merger (significant also for the fact that this broke the previous record set by the Chicago Bears in 1985, the team that took the NFC Championship from the Saints back in 2006 with a 39-14 defeat, after the Saints’ historic season opening to a sold-out crowd on national television in a renovated post-Katrina Superdome, in which they devastated the Atlanta Falcons 23-3 and received the 2007 ESPY award for “Best Moment in Sports”).
And so I say it again, and I say it loudly: GO SAINTS!
Because GO SAINTS! is about the roadtrip to the top, about encouragement in the face of adversity, about wishing as much as getting.
Win or lose, this time, more than ever, it’s about how you play the game. Not that the fans don’t want the Saints to crush the Colts: of course we wanna win. But getting there has been a sweet ride as well.
“Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?”