There was once a city named New Orleans. This was a fun city, a historic city, a place where the nation came to party. The city had its share of problems, as all big cities do.
Crooked politicians were the norm, crime was rampant, and the football team, well, they weren’t so hot.
The citizens of the city took all of this in stride; it was, after all, their home. At election time they cast their votes for the lesser of the evils.
They learned which areas to avoid and warned their tourists of them. And for 39 years they loved their football team regardless of their record.
Sure, there were times when they razzed the team, wore bags on their heads, and called them the Aints, but these citizens kept coming back to watch the team play.
Something happened to the city in 2005, something so horrible no one wanted to believe it could happen, but happen it did.
A ferocious storm named Katrina blew into town, blew a hole into our hearts, and blew away our sense of security and our laid back lifestyle.
The politicians continued to spout their typical two-faced political mumbo-jumbo, but this time they took it to the national audience.
Mayor Indecision and Governor Blankhead together did almost as much damage to the city as Katrina had.
The nation changed its image of New Orleans. It went from being a party city, to being a pity city, to being a money pit for federal tax dollars, a place where incompetent leaders stalled all progress, begged for more and more all the while holding onto every cent already received while the citizens of the city were left to fend for themselves.
The football team had a lousy year, but to be honest, their plight was so trivial compared to that of the citizens that it just faded into the background.
A year after Katrina, the outlying areas of the city started to rebound. Progress could actually be seen in many neighborhoods. Politicians in many of these outlying areas stepped up to the plate and made tough decisions necessary to save their areas.
City and state politicians, however, continued to wallow in their own self-importance, ignoring their hurting citizens and playing them against each other in their bids to win office yet again, all the while promising to find the solution but not really doing anything of use.
The citizens languished in depression, anger, and despair.
Meanwhile back on the ranch, the football team worked on its own recovery. A new head honcho was hired for the team.
This man was an honorable man, a man with a work ethic that put the politicians to shame, a man who valued discipline, hard work, and heart over showmanship and big talk.
Sean Payton, the head honcho, took the ailing team, the Saints, and molded them into his vision of what a team should be.
They worked hard. They worked together. They concentrated on the tasks at hand, analyzed what had to be done, then did it, and did it in a classy way.
The reborn New Orleans Saints became a struggling and beleaguered city’s ambassadors to the nation, and the nation liked what they saw. They won the hearts, admiration and respect of everyone they encountered, especially the citizens.
Since this story isn’t a fairy tale, it doesn’t have the typical fairy tale ending. The Saints didn’t win the Super Bowl, didn’t even make it to the big game, but they accomplished something that no politician even attempted.
They pulled us, the citizens, out of our despair, they entertained us, they gave us something to be proud of, something to cling to, something to hope for.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”
And so I would like to thank Coach Sean Payton and the gentlemen of the New Orleans Saints for helping us to regain what we needed to go on. Super Bowl Schmuper Bowl, you’re World Champions in our books.