In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, devastating the city and sending its beloved football team, the Saints, to play the season in Texas. Many thought that the team would never return to its damaged home stadium, and that the region might never be able to financially support an NFL franchise.
Before the disaster, the Saints had been a poorly run franchise for years. New Orleans has always been a town with a lot of pride, but fans would wear paper bags over their heads while sitting in the stands and watching another lopsided loss in the Louisiana Superdome.
A year after Katrina, the Saints returned to the battered region. And in 2010, the former laughingstocks of the NFL not only made it to the Super Bowl — a team first — but then they did the unbelievable, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. The underdog team showed the grit, talent, and soul of the city.
A true team effort combined a high-powered offense (Drew Brees, Reggie Bush); a sharp, risk-taking coach (Sean Payton called for an onside kick to start the second half); and an opportunistic defense — Tracy Porter’s interception of a pass from future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning sealed the victory. Most of all, the Saints had swagger, confidence, and a “why not us, why not now?” attitude.
Often, too much is made of sports impacting the world. Sports aren’t life or death. They don’t rebuild levees, bring back jobs, or heal the sick. In this case, though, something else was in play.
The Saints represented the reborn New Orleans, and for the city and the region, this win was more than one night to celebrate a football game. This was a sign to the rest of the country that New Orleans was indeed back. Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?