New Orleans The first year of the Saints I was on one of my listless tours of college life. I was on a streak with a couple of buddies in which the daily highlights were playing pool and watching the 8 PM movie of the night, and of course arguing about the Vietnam War. Rooting for the hapless Saints in their first year was a painful, but pleasant diversion. I was so proud of the fact that my newly claimed “hometown” of New Orleans had a big league, NFL team, that I carried the weight and scorn with pride. Finally on the last game of the season to shut them all up, I made my first and only lifetime bet on a football game, plopping a buck down for the Saints against all comers. Luckily for my broke ass there weren’t many willing to even bother and in one of life’s miracles, the Saints actually won their first game in the very twilight of that season, and I retained and replenished my lone soldier and retired that army.
There is something sweetly irrational about being a fan, even for something as meaningless in the “real” world as football. I played football in schoolyards all my life and in high school until a clipping penalty on a block against me by an Archbishop Rummel tore out my knee, changing my life, and making me 4F in frequent draft physicals when I refused to do deep knee bends and thrust forward a dog eared letter from Ocshner Hospital saying I simply must have an operation, which I have steadfastly refused throughout all of these decades. I’m the kind of ex-player, forced fan who has trouble living through the experience of watching the game. With the Saints that has saved me from a lot of deadening pain over the years. I will be as delirious as anyone if somehow the New Orleans team beats New Orleans native Peyton Manning and wins the Super Bowl. I will also be shocked and surprised. I have to live through a longer cultural shift. The Saints, my Saints, are fighters, but they are not blessed by fate to be winners. Somehow we usually find a way to lose. This season has been the exception, but has it changed our genetic code? Hmmm. If the day comes when the Saints make winning routine and actually win a Super Bowl, then maybe I’ll be like my son, and be mad when they lose, rather than still surprised to see them win.
Have to keep perspective. That’s the key.
Reading about “My Way” killings in the Philippines makes me think about all of this as well. A great story in the Times by Norimitus Onishi talked about how dangerous it is for Sinatra’s standard to be sung in Philippine karaoke bars. Falling out of tune can be a death warrant.
We grimace. How could this be possible that so many would care so much about a song?
Then Onishi told the story of “a Thai man” who “killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’”
And, to tell the truth how many of us stopped as we read that with the sudden shock of recognition that there but by the grace of god go I. How many times has the same thought crossed our mind? In my case I would have to confess to a goodly number.