Editor’s note: For Throwback Thursday, we are re-running a Saints-related Love NOLA column from January 2012 to celebrate a great start to the official football season. Who Dat?!
I have never been a fan of organized religion.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the pointy hats, the colorful vests and the Pope’s Prada-red slippers. And who doesn’t love the drama of waving sweetly perfumed incense in your adoring flock’s faces as you walk down the aisle? Still, I’m not one to follow someone else’s steps to salvation. I’m more a build your own path to your own temple kinda guy.
That said, just like the Stones, I need a shot of salvation once in awhile. And when I do, I turn to a church unlike any other. A church with a devoted congregation of each and every one of the 350,000 residents who live here.
I’m talking about the church of the New Orleans Saints.
I mean, think about it. For starters, they ain’t called the Saints by accident, people. Dallas may have been America’s team. We’re GOD’s team (take that, Jerry Jones!). And, like any church, we promise to attend (or at least watch) each and every game … and then lie through our teeth if we miss one for fear of excommunication by the flock.
Like any church, we get all dressed up for our Saints. And I mean ALL dressed up. Tacked back, as my grandmother used to say, in every sort of Saints paraphernalia you can imagine (and plenty that you can’t). My neighbor sent me an urgent text last Saturday afternoon asking if I had any eyelash glue, as she was all out and needed some for her Saints fake eyelashes (this being New Orleans, of course I did).
Like any church, we raise the roof for our boys. Ain’t no choir on earth that sounds as sweet and has as direct a hotline to the almighty as New Orleans Saints fans. The phrase “you can’t even hear yourself think”? That was invented by someone who attended a Saints home game.
Personally, my favorite choir is the one you hear coming from the houses of Saints fan (in other words, every house) as you make your way through the streets during a game. On Saturday, I had to move from one location in the Marigny to another in the Bywater during the second quarter and I could literally tell when Brees threw the ball and when Graham caught it and scored just by the cheers and screams coming from people’s houses.
Who needs play-by-play?
Of course, like any church, we break some mighty fine bread during the Saints games (I mean it IS New Orleans). This being a city of excess and all, we tend to over-consume … and over-garnish. I’ve seen places that use Rouses‘ entire produce department as garnish. At Lost Love Lounge,which has the best Bloody Marys in the universe, they use not only an entire produce department, but also a thick chunk of pepper-jack cheese and, of course, a big slab of bacon. Which is really convenient and highly efficient during high-stakes games because it means your drink can double as your lunch.
But you know the real reason why watching the Saints is like going to church? Because they make you believe. They remind you what it is like to have faith.
Which is why Saints fans are like no other fans. In the year and a half I’ve lived here, I have not heard one negative comment about the team or any single player. Not one. When we lose (even God’s team isn’t perfect), people don’t run around criticizing this play or that. They simply say, “Wasn’t our week” or, “Next time.” Because we have faith in our boys. Deep, abiding faith.
When we lost Saturday’s game, the only thing filling our Facebook pages was, “Thanks for a great season!” Because with the Saints, even in losing, they are still winners. Because their faith in our city is as strong as our faith in them … which is a pretty good message to carry beyond the pew and into our daily lives.
So, thanks to the Saints for an awesome year. Next year will, again, be our year. And we will be winning the Super Bowl. In our church. God wouldn’t have it any other way.
This column is dedicated to the memory of Gerald Barnes, Jr. and Gerald Andry, the two fellow citizens who have been murdered this week (as of deadline).
Brett Will Taylor writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his blog at thestoryblogbwt.wordpress.com.