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ON BEING TOPS

As I was leaving my seat after that big Monday night game between the Saints and the New England Patriots I happened to come face-to-face with a couple who, as I could tell by their jerseys, were from Boston. We stared at each other for a moment sending non-verbal communication that had to do with their feeling hurt; then I said, “Look at it this way. Y’all have the Red Sox. That’s priceless. And y’all have the Celtics.” “We have the Bruins too,” the female of the couple added in reference to the Boston hockey team. Then, I concluded, “We have never had a championship at all.”

The male companion nodded, smiled and then said, “I think your time has come.”

As I approached my car that evening I saw two guys, both also wearing Patriots jerseys, both also showing hurt. I gave the same spiel as though it had become my sudden mission to give comfort to New Englanders. One of the guys answered, “I think this is going to be your year.”

Our cover story this month is about our readers’ selections of what we call the “Tops of the Town.” No matter what it’s called, the thrill is in being No. 1, whether determined by magazine readers or on the football field.

We may learn, perhaps soon, maybe later, what it’s like to live in a place that has won a big league championship. A few days after the euphoria there will come a time when we’re reminded that there’s still crime, poverty and greed, but we’ll also have the right to feel a little better about ourselves as a community. Championships aren’t won just on a field.

For a team to have taken the field, or to have a field to play on, there were years of civic do-gooderism, boosterism and dealmaking, most often by people whose uniform was a coat and tie.

As I drove home I thought about the three Super Bowl championships that the New England Patriots can claim, but then I realized that, as a city, we already have them beat. Their stadium isn’t in town but in a bourg (22 miles away from Boston) called Foxborough. The Saints play in the heart of their town. And the Patriots don’t even carry their city’s name. The Saints, on the other hand are all about New Orleans. Boston has never hosted a Super Bowl; New Orleans has hosted nine, including the first one (2002) won by the Patriots.

By the time I got home I realized that maybe we haven’t yet won a championship, but in many ways we are already “Tops.”
 

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