Move over Dallas. America has a new team, the New Orleans Saints. Last night the Saints scored a decisive victory over the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl and capture the National Football League Championship. The victory was all that much more sweet for a city that faced an abyss after a deadly hurricane – Katrina – tore through the Crescent City and left it for dead. As a nation watched scenes of the devastation in shock and horror, and residents struggled to survive, the city’s epitaph was all but written.
The people of New Orleans had other ideas. In the midst of a tragedy, with broken hearts and unbearable grief, the city refused to surrender. Even among those that lost family members and all of their worldly possessions, there was a dogged determination to stand once again. The resilience of the people of New Orleans has been a remarkable testament to the power of the human spirit. It is that will to survive that was carried onto the field last night in Miami, and allowed the Saints to have the audacity to win the first championship in the franchise’s history.
There have been plenty of moments in professional sports when players were competing for something bigger than the game. Still, what occurred on the field yesterday seemed predestined: a football team that loves its city and a city in love with its team. A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have written a better ending. As the clock ticked away the final seconds of the game, a city exhaled and the burdens of Katrina seemed that much lighter. No, this was no simple Super Bowl victory; this was the resurrection of humanity.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the MVP of the Super Bowl, is the embodiment of his adopted city. A player who sustained a career threatening injury, who was all but written off, saw New Orleans as his last best chance for redemption. He did not fail. En route to becoming an elite NFL quarterback, Drew Brees also found a purpose for his life. His commitment to his city has been inspirational, and it serves as an example to his fellow teammates and other NFL players that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Following Brees’ lead, these Saints have been a lifeline to a city that was on life support.
In the days to come the Saints will be honored in their city. The team will hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy and bask in the glow of the first championship in franchise history. Not far from that celebration another brick will be laid in the Lower Ninth Ward, children will make their way to school, and memories of those lost in the storm will tug at hearts. This city, though, can now claim the victory. It has earned the respect of a nation, and the team the enduring devotion of its fans. Congratulations New Orleans! Who Dat? The Super Bowl Champions, that’s who!