September 26, 2006

One Monday Night in New Orleans

Not sure about the rest of you, but I must admit that in the days leading up to Monday night's Falcons-Saints game in New Orleans, I found the amount of Katrina-related coverage to be borderline nauseating. I mean, how many different ways did we need to hear this story told? It was devastating, tragic, impossible to look at and remains incredibly difficult for people to cope with, but that doesn't mean that football-related coverage of the event needs to be all of those things as well.

It got to the point where I was becoming borderline belligerent. Every time a new Katrina piece would come on the air, I'd affect my voice with just the slightest hint of sarcasm and declare, "Wait -- there was a hurricane in New Orleans last year?"

The mind-numbing amount of coverage had turned me into a curmudgeonly, insensitive prick (or maybe I was one of those already). In any case, I was at my wits' end. And I'd have to guess that many of you out there probably felt the same way.

But then a funny thing happened. Monday, before the game, Green Day and U2 performed out on the field at the SuperDome. And the place was going nuts. And all of a sudden, I got caught up in it. The energy coming from the place, even filtered through the TV, was incredible -- I wanted more than anything to climb into a teleporting machine and suddenly appear out there on the field just to hear the noise and soak up the energy.

And just then I thought back to one of those Katrina pieces I had seen on TV, which I had kind of tuned out at the time -- part of the whole "I've had enough of this" sentiment I had been feeling.

In the piece, Saints' WR Joe Horn is walking around part of New Orleans, in and around at least one house that had been completely wrecked. At one point he ends up talking with an older man sitting on a front porch, and they share the following exchange (not word-for-word):

Old Man: You know what team we really want you to beat?
Joe Horn: Yeah, I know. Those Dirty Birds, right?
Old Man (smiling): Yeah, that's right.

And at that moment, as I sat there watching Bono rock out on stage at the SuperDome, thinking about what the old man said to Joe Horn, I suddenly wondered, How can I possibly root for the Falcons in this game? As disinterested as I'd been in the days leading up to this, suddenly I was completely caught up in the New Orleans hoopla. And though there was no way I was actually going to root against the Falcons, I suddenly wished they weren't there. I wanted it to be some other team facing this crowd and this challenge, so I could pull for the Saints to demolish those poor saps.

Ultimately, it didn't matter. The Saints dominated the Dirty Birds from the opening snap. Though I kept thinking the Falcons could make a run and get back in the game, the more I think about it now, they might not have ever had a chance.

Did they get caught up in what was going on in New Orleans? Is it possible that even they felt ambivalent about beating the Saints? Sounds nice, but not likely. Clearly they wanted to win the game more than anything, mercy be damned. But going up against what may have been the most incredible home field advantage I've ever seen, they couldn't muster anything.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Falcons are a better team than the Saints. And if they played the game in Atlanta, or at a neutral site, or on a different night, the Falcons would have won. But there was something in the air in New Orleans last night, something you couldn't ignore or tune out even if you wanted to.

A couple other thoughts from Monday night:
  • Got word prior to the game from ATL-based correspondent Jesse that a radio announcer on 92.9 FM in Atlanta said that Saints' QB Drew Brees "has a tendency to put his balls somewhere he shouldn't." Nice imagery. Now I'm picturing Brees walking around the locker room dropping his nutsack into people's cleats when they're not looking. Terrific. Apparently this may have been on a national radio broadcast. Anyone else out there happen to catch this gem?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm glad the saints won. the city needs every point it can get. also, the dirty birds will be in the playoffs regardless, and the saints probably won't. good for the saints, good for the city.

in other news, nice work on the atl roster challenge. in retrospect it's kind of shocking that the bravos were able to sustain such a high-level of success with slappy-pappy fixtures like belliard and lemke. here's a follow-up atl quiz, then: how many homers did belliard hit in his career? you have five seconds...

le chien rouge

10:42 PM, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's true..I'm too lazy to log in as Jesse. You can call my girl Bonnie, she was in the car with me when the guy came over the radio talking about Brees putting his balls in places he shouldn't. Bonnie and I both looked at each other like, "what the fuck did that guy just say". It was totally absurd. Anyway, Brees ended up putting his nutsack all over the Falcons, so I guess the jokes on us.

11:28 PM, September 26, 2006  
Blogger The OCC said...

My guess is 7. 7 homers for Rafael Belliard. And I'm taking the under on my own guess.

And...the answer was 2. I knew 7 was too high. Turns out it was way too high.

12:14 PM, September 27, 2006  

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