Monday, January 25, 2010

Geaux Saints!

Sometimes, you have to look pretty hard to find a storyline.

Not this time. This Super Bowl is all about New Orleans.

It's a showdown between the hometown team and the hometown boy. The Saints wear the New Orleans symbol, the fleur de lys, on their sleeves (and their helmets). The Colts are led by Peyton Manning, the New Orleans-born son of Archie Manning, the quarterback who is a near-deity in the Crescent City.

The only shame is that the game will be played in Miami instead of in the Superdome.

I know, that would be an unfair advantage to the home team. But you see, New Orleans needs this game in a way few American cities have ever needed a ballgame. The scars from Hurricane Katrina--both actual and psychic--are still so deep and raw in New Orleans, and the Saints represent hope.

What I find inspiring is that these millionaire athletes have embraced that role. From quarterback Drew Brees to coach Sean Payton to lesser names, the Saints seem to have understood the privilege and responsibility of playing football in a shattered city. In fact, they play in a building that still reverberates with the ghosts of those who didn't survive the storm.

It'll be tough to root against Peyton Manning, who is, for my money, the greatest player in the game (and maybe the best quarterback in history). I greatly admire and respect Manning's approach to his craft: he's a hard-working perfectionist with a sense of humor and humility about him.

So I won't root against Peyton. I will pull hard for New Orleans--the city and the team

Geaux Saints!

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