I love New Orleans culture. You absolutely know this if you are a regular reader of this column. I love everything about this crazy town. Yet – and many folks are with me on this very important point – keep your Okra away from me. Yes, I love me some real deal gumbo but never ever expect me to eat one of those do-nothing fat, slimy wanna-be green beans in a delicious bowl of gumbo. Gumbo is a gloriously, perfect hodgepodge of ingredients – much like the greatest city on earth – and, in the same way, so is the local sport scene. With that in mind, let’s take a look at all of the tasty bits going around town and beyond.
I would be a mad man if I didn’t mention the greatest little league team on earth A.K.A., Team Louisiana, the boys team from River Ridge won the Little League World Series in dominating style by beating Curacao 8-0 to bring the title home to the city of New Orleans. The young men out of River Ridge dropped their first game of the tournament and would not lose again storming through the tourney and winning United States’ region 9-5 over the West Team out of Hawaii.
As this group of youngsters wrapped up the World Series I assure you, the crowd of much older folks at Rendezvous Tavern was yelling at the top of their lungs in support of the kids from River Ridge. It was a non-football Sunday that I will never forget.
Speaking of days one never forgets I hope Deonte Harris remembers the Saints versus the New York Jets as the game he realized he was going to be a New Orleans Saint for a long, long time.
This entire pre-season has been a showcase for Harris on special teams. Harris has returned punts and kickoffs like a man on a mission and busted a well deserved 78-yard return for a touchdown versus the New York Jets. This man absolutely has to be on the active opening roster.
I also have to mention that watching the boys from River Ridge win the Little League World Series in same spot I watched the NFL referees steal the NFC Championship away from the Saints somehow felt like a correction in the sports world. Where last year we watched the NFL steal something from the Saints, this Sunday we watched the creation of an unexpected local World Champion. In some way, these kids from River Ridge made an impact on this glorious Saints season, which is about to become reality.
You have to admit that reality, while sometimes glorious, can also be a tough go of it. One only has to look so far as Indiana’s favorite current quarterback until he wasn’t Andrew Luck to confirm this harsh truth.
Mr. Luck did the wise thing and called it quits while he still has his mind and beat up body still intact. Luck, at the age of 29, retired from the NFL and shocked the pro football world for the simple reason that he had enough of rehabbing from injury. Good for him.
I think it’s also good for everyone, as the old school NFL mentality that any player will sacrifice whatever it takes for the leagues took its biggest shot to date by Luck’s departure. This sort of thing has been a long time coming and, in short, you should get used it. I’m sure the scariest part of this to the NFL regime is that it had nothing to do with concussions. Luck simply had enough of being beat up. That haunts the NFL brass.
Even though every football fan in Indianapolis (and folks that drafted him in their fantasy draft) is losing their mind over the outcome it’s actually not that surprising as the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. In 2015 Chris Borland, after a great rookie season with the San Francisco 49er’s retired, at the tender age of 24 years, from the league citing concerns about long term impacts of concussions. Oddly enough he was playing in place of an injured Patrick Willis who should go down as a Hall of Famer, even though he quit the NFL after eight years saying that his body, specifically his feet, just could not hold up to the rigors of the sport. Believe me, the NFL is shook.
Also, every fan of the NFL that is shaming Andrew Luck should be ashamed of themselves. No one owes a thing to the NFL. The NFL is simply an employer of talent, just like your boss and their boss above them. These players don’t owe you or their bosses anything. They can, and I believe will more frequently, bounce out of this brutal sport called the NFL without a care. Also, to be honest, you shouldn’t care either. These teams that we call our own are simply here because the money, from the city the teams resides in, makes sense. You know this. So, why jump down a player’s throat just because he wants to take care of him or herself?
With these Sports Gumbo pieces I’m not going to end with a song, beer or an a “Around the Way” section, but I will always end on a positive note because life is too short to get mad or depressed about some simple sport outcome.
So, here is the grandest salute to the boys and girls (who kicked butt as well) of River Ridge for representing the state of Louisiana with grace and showing the world, literally, that the kids of Louisiana are something to behold.