Lombardi Gras

In 1987 I was a college sophomore at a small school on the Mississippi Gulf Coast roughly 120 miles from downtown New Orleans.  The folks in Suthrin' Miss-sippi were Saints fans through and through.  The same could be said for many people from my hometown of Mobile, AL another 60 miles east.  Count me among them.

Though the Saints had not had a winning season in its first two decades Saints fans were everywhere.  My two friends from 'Goula (Pascagoula, MS) both Saints fans.  The bass player in the rock band I was in was from Gulfport and also a Saints fan.  My roomie, a transplant from Seattle split his loyalties between the Seahawks and the Saints; most likely a compromise on behalf of his fiancee from the Bay, (Bay St. Louis, MS).

One Sunday late in '87 I was on a school van with the drama club.  As an early Christmas gift our instructors had bought tickets to see Cats at the Sanger Theater in New Orleans for the lot of us.  For the duration of the drive we listened to Archie Manning (Peyton's father) as he provided color commentary for the Saints game at Pittsburgh.  Should the Saints win that game it would constitute their ninth win of the season thus guaranteeing a winning season.  Their first ever.

We had made it to Metairie by game's end and our Saints had prevailed 10-0 over what was a hapless Steeler's team.  When we arrived downtown we were not prepared for what we saw.  The streets were jammed with people of all colors, all walks of life hugging, dancing and singing.  It was Mardi Gras in November.

When we exited the theater the haunting melodies of Andrew Lloyd Weber were soon driven away by a cacophony of jubilation.  It was now some six hours since the game had ended and the man-made canyons echoed with "who dat!"  The streets were still packed.  Fans still cheered.  Again that was to celebrate a regular season game against a sub-500 opponent.

No region deserves this party more than the people of the Third Coast.  This win is not just for New Orleans but for all of Louisiana, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mobile and even Pensacola, FL which is closer to New Orleans than it is to Tampa, Miami or Jacksonville.  If not for a hyper-extended knee the following video would have been shot by me, alas I watched the Saints win from my couch.

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