Friday, January 22, 2010

New Orleans Saints and Gumbo Justice

I had to take a few minutes away from working on my manuscript for the follow up to Gumbo Justice, Jambalaya Justice, to make a quick note about our boys in black and gold. There is actually a Gumbo Justice connection- Big Mike, Ryan's junior prosecutor, is a former Saints player. But aside from that, our team is proving to be a source of pride for our troubled city.

New Orleans is the most wonderful and the most terrible city in the United States. The architecture is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the food is beyond compare. When I travel, the one thing that universally disappoints me is the food. None of it comes close to New Orleans.

And then we have the undeniable bad. We have a high murder rate, the most crooked politicians in the country, the huge disparity between the rich and the poor, and one of the worst education systems in the country. We have a lot to be ashamed of.

But not our football team. Not this year. Most of us have followed the Saints come rain or shine, hell or high water, good or bad. And there has been a lot of bad. We wore paper bags on our faces, but we still went to the games and cheered. We paid for tickets when we were the worst team in the league. And now, we just might be the best.

And that makes a big difference in a city struggling to come back. During Saints' games, the crime temporarily ceases. Even murderers somehow respect the black and gold enough to put off their killings until after game time. They might kill someone during the Martin Luther King parade, but the Saints game is sacred.

There are many in this city barely making ends meet. Some people are not back in their homes, some have lost loved ones, some have families still spread out all over the country, displaced from Katrina. Some have lost jobs in companies that have left the city forever, some formerly good neighborhoods are on the decline. Surviving here is not an automatic for anyone, individual or business, and some people here have very little to look forward to.

But for two or three hours on a Sunday, for sixteen regular weeks and three weeks of playoffs, and, of course, if God really is still watching, the Superbowl, they can forget their own problems, and cheer for something going right in New Orleans. And just maybe be inspired. If the Saints can do what they're doing, with their track record, anything is possible.

And so on Monday, we persevere.

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