The “Gleason Game” airs tonight on ESPN
Here we are in April after the longest March known to man. As sports fans, we have no idea when the Major League baseball season will start or even the NFL. College baseball, March Madness and the rest of the NCAA’s spring sports are cancelled and not coming back. It’s a nation without sport, unless you count dodging every living human being on your nightly walk. However, the sports world is still sputtering along and has even given us a retro gem to watch — The Block.
The game will air tonight at 7 p.m. but, let’s be honest, you’ve re-aired this game on Youtube, on NFL Classic and, most importantly, your mind thousands of times. It’s a beautiful memory. I wrote about what that game means to me (https://www.myneworleans.com/the-importance-of-memories/) a few years ago but for new followers here it is in a nutshell.
On Sept. 25, 2006, I was a production assistant working on “Friday Night Lights” in Austin, Texas. We were shooting a football game, so my task was to keep track of the high school coach who was in control of the stadium lights. Lucky for me, he planted himself in front of the TV to watch the Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons. We settled in and let the suckers shoot their show.
The crowd noise gave me goose bumps, but that’s just normal for me when I hear games in the Superdome, whether watching on TV or attending live in concert. It was a special night for the Black and Gold faithful and the show took all of 90 seconds to get completely lit. What’s funny is how it came oh so close to not happening. The coach and I jumped out of our chairs on the third down play before The Block as Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick, scrambled out of the pocket and was chased down by Scott Fujita, who knocked the ball out of Vick’s hand. Luckily for Atlanta, at least at the time, the ball rolled out of bounds. We settled back in and waited for the Falcons to punt the ball away. What we got? History books.
The Saints have a lot of events scheduled heading up to the replay. A highlight is you putting on your best Black and Gold and celebrating #blackandgoldmonday and raising money for the service industry professionals by donating to the Gayle Benson Assistance Fund. Drew Brees fans can donate $9 and, if you want to go big and honor Steve Gleason you can donate $37. In honor of the game and the rivalry with the Falcons, fans can give $28, $25, $3 or $2.83. Check out all of the related Black and Gold activities here.
I wasn’t in the house for The Block but I was for Mike Mauti’s career highlight, a punt block that went for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Falcons. The significance overwhelmed me as I kept yelling at Melanie about The Block. It was a beauty.
Speaking of looking back I was skimming through my old blog posts and was mesmerized by Sport Gumbo Recipe #9. As with all of my gumbos it’s a grab bag of ideas and stories that were on my mind.
The story talks about the stellar season the Green Wave baseball team was having and highlighted their pitching phenom Braden Olthoff. I also wrote about giving some baseball website hell about not having the UNO Privateers in their mid-major Top 25. Hell, I even talked about the possibility of watching a New Orleans Pelicans game. There was talk of crawfish boils and St. Patrick’s Day. I even gave a shout out to the XFL.
It was written on March 9th. That’s only 28 days ago yet it feels like it was 1,000 years ago. Wild.
Keep your heads up, New Orleans. We’ll fight our way through this. Enjoy the game tonight, raise a glass to Steve Gleason and deck yourself out in Black and Gold.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Booze Pairing: Vodka and Sodas at Rendezvous Tavern. One day!
Playlist Recommendation: The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”
Around the Way
I obviously didn’t live here but no fan of the NFL is a real fan without knowing about the legendary Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, who sadly died from COVID-19 on April 4 in New Orleans. Though Dempsey became a journeyman kicker after leaving the New Orleans Saints he will forever be remembered as a Saint. Now, just to put a bittersweet smile on our face, here is Dempsey’s record-setting 63-yard field goal to lift the Saints to a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions. Rest in peace, Mr. Dempsey.