Or, block that memory
Jason Raish Illustration
Are you over it yet?
And if you don’t know what “it” is, you should probably stop reading here.
But really, are you? Over it?
On one hand I keep thinking: People, this wasn’t Katrina. It wasn’t even Gustav for chrissake. It wasn’t even another water boil emergency from the Sewerage & Water Board. It was just a single play by a single player on a single team in a single game in a single season.
No yellow flag.
How much could such an event on a football field matter to a city, a region, a community? Or as we so proudly call ourselves, a Nation. How could it alter our sense of self, our identity, even the very way we ponder the future?
More to the point, how much should a single play on a football field matter to such an otherwise demonstrably joyous, equanimous populace? Why are we still talking about it? Why are we still stewing in our own bitter broth?
Seriously folks, in the end, we beat Katrina. That’s got to count for something. So what the hell is wrong with us? Nations don’t live or die by a single play on a football field. Certainly not a nation as provenly resilient as ours, right?
Then again. There’s a lot to parse here. Consider how, for years – no, decades! – local sports fans collectively and legitimately groused about how the national media all but ignored our small-market professional sports teams in favor of covering bigger, flashier, more iconic franchises. Even when they suck. The Lakers. The Knicks. The Packers. The Giants.
We are a city with teams and a fan base by turns historically dismissed, disrespected, dispatched, disjointed, dispirited and just plain....dissed.
And then comes 2019. The year that exemplifies that famous proverb, be it Chinese or Roman or Lithuanian, whatever: Be careful what you wish for.
For the entirety of this new year so far, the lead story on every sports page, broadcast, blog and podcast has featured our teams, our city, our fans. You want saturation sports coverage, New Orleans? You want some attention Who Dat Nation? You want to be noticed? You got it.
How does it feel?
We’re still the biggest NFL story of the year, even though we weren’t in the Super Bowl. We’re the biggest NBA story of the year, even though we’re not likely going to the playoffs.
And you want to know just how low things can go? Even the Baby Cakes, our misbegotten Triple-A baseball team, announced their intentions to abandon the Shrine on Airline and head to sunnier climes in Wichita, Kansas.
I mean, forgive my French here, but somebody just kick me in the nuts. Please!
Once again, we’re the beat down three-legged dog of a sports town with an “L” tattooed on our foreheads, a posture so many of us acclimated to for so many decades of losing teams, moving teams, phantom teams, no teams.
I mean, how ironic is it that the most significant, memorable play during Super Bowl LIII (Roman for “Lie”) was a punt? A 65-yard record-breaking gonzo kick by a team that represented our conference and racked up a total of three points.
Three more than the Saints scored.
The crowd went wild. Because there wasn’t much else to get wild about, unless you’re a fan of Adam Levine’s abs.
And who isn’t?
Which brings us back to the premise here. The thing about being over it. About a single play in a single game changing the course of a city’s history, its fate, its faith. During a punt, of all things.
How could such a thing matter? Glad you asked.
It’s Sept. 25, 2006. A Monday night. The reopening of the Superdome which, until that night, was the very symbol of our nation’s disgrace.
Fourth down. A single figure dressed in white parts the Red Sea, cuts through the line of scrimmage and blocks a punt. Touchdown Saints. Victory Saints. Victory New Orleans.
A legend is born. A city is transformed. On a single play by a single player on a single team in a single game in a single season.
So yeah, it matters. Maybe not in other places. But it does here. Did then, does now, always will.
Are you over it?
Just a game, they say.
Like hell it is.