Last May I was attending a conference in Minneapolis. One morning I was in a breakfast buffet line when a man across from me, whom I did not know, looked up from his pancakes and asked a question that stunned me: “Have you gotten over that game yet?”
I did not need to ask which game. “No” I answered. “It is going take a while.”
My convention badge, I realized, had identified me as being from New Orleans. Being from here is still identified with what happened in the Superdome last January.
A local sportscaster tells the story of vacationing with his wife in Scotland during the past year. They were is a restaurant when they got into a conversation with the server who spoke in a heavy Scottish brogue. When the Scotsman learned where the couple was from, his response was immediate. “You were robbed.” He spoke with the same degree of venom once reserved for the English. The waiter explained that he has never been to America but likes our football. (Though inexplicably the Pittsburgh Steelers are his favorite team.) As for the Saints, he watched THAT game and felt the sense of outrage that local fans are still experiencing.
Sports is all about setting records and enshrining achievements. The Saints game will be the standard bearer for what should be remembered as the worst referee’s blunder in sports history. Considering the implications, the record is not likely to be broken.
Saints fans were smashed in the gut and though severely wounded still managed to stand erect on Superbowl Sunday staging their own protest events – partying and spending money in their hometown rather than carrying it to the Superbowl in Atlanta. That in itself almost made the grief worth it.
Curiously, Minneapolis was the site of another near-Superbowl miss in January 2018. That was the so-called “Minnesota Miracle” when a last moment missile of a pass completion sent the Vikings rather than the Saints to the division finals. We were hurt then too, but at least the action was mano-a-mano – two athletes competing their hardest against each other. By contrast, the “no-call” was a referee in la-la land.
A new season begins and if the Saints win another Superbowl we can rejoice, though, as even the Scotsman knows, it could have been their third trophy rather than just the second, because of a flag that didn’t fly.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 p.m., REPEATED AT 11:30 p.m..WYES-TV, CH. 12.