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Like a Hurricane – Superbowl Special

Yesterday, Miki and I had the privilege of being in New Orleans for unquestionably the biggest sporting event in that city’s history. We watched the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts on the big screen in the Checkpoint bar, right on the edge of the famous French Quarter. The local weather channel had portrayed it as “Hurricane Saints”, heading out of Louisiana and hitting Miami. This was a big deal, New Orleans had been waiting for 43 years for this. What follows are my impressions, as an NFL virgin, of the game, the presentation, the reaction of the fans,and the aftermath.

Relaxing during one of the many ad breaks

The Americans like to hype pretty much everything, dignifying “The Coin Toss” with its own special segment, sandwiched between adverts.  The nature of the game is such that it consists of a series of set plays, and is therefore very stop/start.  Coaches seem to have 20 seconds to organize a play, or if they need more time, can request a time out, which gives them two minutes. As soon as a coach requests this, you are assaulted by adverts. This has the effect of taking away the atmosphere built up during the play. The ad situation is beyond amazing. Sometimes, the game restarts for 20 seconds, then cuts to 2 minutes of ads, it’s completely bizarre. I observed the people around me, gradually getting more drunk. Early in the game, I got the impression they were more up for the ‘event’ than the actual game itself. They also seemed unduly courteous to the opposition, indulging in a bit of booing, but not the out and out  hostility us Brits save for our rivals. The Quarterback is the iconic figure in American football (I know this because I watched Warren Beatty in Heaven can Wait)  Drew Brees holds that role for the Saints, and is something of a talisman for the city, raising money for charities to help the city, and symbolically moving his family into the city too. To add spice, the Colts quarterback is a native of New Orleans!

The half-time show featured The Who, so of course I loved that.  The Saints were trailing in the game pretty much from the off, but their coach seemed to have a game plan, starting the third quarter with a short kick that helped the Saints start to edge back into the game. I still have no real clue of the rules. The fans around us cheered like crazy when the Colts made certain mistakes, but I couldn’t really see what the Saints gained in those situations – perhaps the Colts had to fall back a few yards? Not sure.  The Saints made history by being the first team in history to score three field goals from over  40 yards out. The real big moment in the game for me was the interception of a Colts throw by Tracy Porter , who then ran like a steam train 74 yards over the line, with time to point at the fans while he was doing it. That moment for me, was the moment the Saints won this Superbowl, and the moment when I finally ‘got’ American Football. The bar erupted, it was a fantastic moment.  Within minutes the game was done, and we all spilled out onto the street. No words can describe the next few hours. This was New Orleans’ finest hour, we were high-fiving complete strangers, each drunker or happier, than the next. Random dancing was the order of the day,  and a spontaneous parade began along Decatur street, winding its way through the entire French Quarter. People were climbing on cars, diving into other people’s cars, dancing on the roofs, yelling “Who Dat!!!” at each other. For the uninitiated, it is  a shortened version of the Saint’s battle cry – “Who dat say they gonna beat dem Saints?”   which was being sung from every balcony, every car, every passing bicycle.  It is almost impossible to put into words the emotion that welled up from this city last night. Seasoned locals were saying that this surpassed any Mardi Gras celebrations – The Saints win and Mardi Gras  were now all rolled into one, and this victory marked the end of the road in a very personal journey for every New Orleans native who had watched their city ripped apart by Hurricane Katrina. This is a proud city, a tough city, and a city that has well and truly bounced back. As we ate our post-match meal in Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, we could almost reach out and touch the joy.

Checkpoint erupts at the final whistle

It took us an age to get back to our hotel, but it was a fun journey  peppered with shared greetings and cheers every inch of the way. The city was alive, as one, and rocking. N’awlins will have the mother of all hangovers this morning!

It was all too much for these Saints fans…

We are so lucky to be here for this moment in history – Mardi Gras and the Superbowl all rolled into one.  The Saints parade the trophy through the city on Tuesday, and we’re going to do it all again!

Kev Moore

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February 8, 2010 - Posted by | Art, culture, events, Festivals of the World, fun, life, photography, sport, travel, writing | , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Nice pix to go along with a nice entry. A very enjoyable read.

    Sometimes, the game restarts for 20 seconds, then cuts to 2 minutes of ads, it’s completely bizarre. I observed the people around me, gradually getting more drunk. Early in the game, I got the impression they were more up for the ‘event’ than the actual game itself.

    People who don’t especially care for the Super Bowl game itself still watch it for the commercials. The ads that air during the big game are not only more expensive to make but also more costly to air (ahhhh the joys of purchasing broadcast time), and are typically more outrageous in content. This year’s commercials didn’t strike me as too memorable…except for the one about the horse and the ox.

    The Super Bowl is the apex of American football not only as a sport but as a televised program and event. It is the meta-text of professional football just like the BCS Championship game is for college football.

    According to preliminary Nielsen data, this Super Bowl is the most-watched in history.

    Comment by sittingpugs | February 8, 2010

  2. […] under Other Leave a Comment  Before I get to the heart of the matter, check out my blogging friend’s entry on the Super Bowl.  He watched the game in New […]

    Pingback by If You said Yes, jump to page 99 « Sitting Pugs: Sports Movies | February 9, 2010

  3. You may be an NFL virgin but you’re still the best sports reporter I know, probably because I’m as stymied by the rules of football and TV ad/play sequencing as you are. What an amazing time to be in New Orleans. You hit it just right!

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | February 11, 2010

  4. Each team has three time-outs per half.* Time-outs can be called when there’s confusion on the field or when the quarterback is about to run out of time and his team isn’t ready at the line of scrimmage.

    Or, a coach can call time-out to mess with the other team (usually before a field goal or a snap with seconds left in the first half or in the fourth quarter).

    The network often cuts to a commercial during time-outs taken by the team (or when there’s an injury time-out). There are also TV time-outs or mandatory commercial breaks.

    That’s the gist of it.

    For more information, visit NFL.com’s guide to rules.

    Comment by sittingpugs | February 11, 2010

  5. Thank you, Susan! 🙂 We continue to marvel at our good timing on this trip. These last few days have been historic in New Orleans – being part of the biggest crowd in history- TV estimates 800,000 – We really feel a part of the WHO DAT NATION!

    SP – you will always be our resident NFL expert – perhaps you should insert small statements between your rule explanations detailing the delights of budweiser and doritos for that added authenticity…. 😉

    Comment by kevmoore | February 11, 2010


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