Back Home in the Dome
Friday Night, Sean Payton came home to the Dome. I am tempted to stop right there, 'cause that about sums up everything you need to know; however, I’ll continue.
First off, I must admit that I am not a football person. Confession: I went to my first Saints game back in the mid '90s when they were still the “aint’s”. My dad was born in Wisconsin and they were playing the Packers, so I wore Packer pajamas and a cheese head to the dome, the Packers won -- I’ll give you a moment to ridicule me.
Done? Ok great, let's continue. I'm not a football person, but I am a Saints person. I am a Saints person because I remember the way they gave the whole city something to rally behind, something to celebrate, in the seemingly never ending slew of issues in the year or so following Katrina. I am a Saints person because Drew lives in my neighborhood. I am a Saints person because the Saints are an integral part of the Spirit of New Orleans, and to be a New Orleanian is to embrace them, because we New Orleanians -- born or adopted -- stick together.
UVA is filled with Redskins and other fans, and they try to argue why the Saints may not be statistically superior and why I shouldn’t root for them: like the guy who took me to dinner (whose name I can't remember), he was a Falcon's fan (probably why I don't remember his name). What they don’t realize, is that I don’t care. I don’t care if the Saints aren’t ranked number one all the time; I don’t keep up with all that stuff. The Saints are New Orleans. New Orleanians are the few, the proud, the loud. That’s what I care about. And that’s what Friday night was.
We used Panda Parking to book and pay for our $11 parking spot ahead of time, and it went very smoothly. Then we got sushi and headed to the dome.
Black and Gold tutu, “Krewe du Drew” shirt, gold headband, and friends headed to our seats to watch the game.
There was the usual who-dat chant before kickoff, and then things got underway. It was a slow start, but preseason is the time for that. It’s the time to mesh and try things out, work out the kinks, so they can do us proud when it counts.
You have to understand, I go to games when I am invited by those awesome friends with season tickets. The last time I went, Payton wasn’t there. Friday, he was. Seeing him and Drew chatting on the sideline gave me a sense that everything was coming back into place. The storm is over, and it will be okay; reminiscent to the feeling the Saints gave us all in the aftermath of Katrina, a little piece of normal. I got this feeling -- me, someone who is more of a Saints fan by virtue of being a die-hard New Orleanian than from any interest in the sport of American Football (not to be mistaken with Futbol). So, I can only imagine the feeling it gave those who seriously follow the sport.
Halftime brought on none other than the 610 Stompers. They are ordinary men, with truly extraordinary moves. And no shame, which I admire. In case you didn’t know, they are local celebrities in their own rite. And when they took New York by storm in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, those yankees had absolutely no idea what to do with them, which I also admire.
The only thing to wonder is where the clip of “halftime” was to be found when they scored their first touchdown? Hopefully it’s a preseason thing and they will have their DJ-ing in proper order when it counts.
The game continued, the team made a comeback, and won, per usual. But Friday was more about the Spirit of the team, and the city that loves them, than it was about a game of Football.
The team is back. Drew is back. The fans -- both sports fans and those that love them simply for their Spirit, like me -- are back. Payton is back.
We are all home, back home, in the Dome.
Native New Orleanian Elizabeth Kukla is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She writes about being a NOLA girl from afar in “Growing Pains,” a weekly column at NolaVie.