New Orleans tunes out Super Bowl
Well done, New Orleans.
Now it really is time to move on. Be done with it.
Robbery-Gate is over now.
But what a way to go out.
OK, it’s not quite over yet. Not with Mardi Gras parades on the near horizon, when there figures to be more yellow flags flying out of the floats than cheap beads.
But New Orleans made its point during Super Bowl Sunday, did it with the whole Who Dat nation living vicariously through the Big Easy as New Orleans went totally New Orleans as only that city can do it.
This, yes this, may have been New Orleans’ finest hour.
Just as the rest of the nation was growing weary of the whole thing, New Orleans came through in all its delightful funkiness on the big stage.
It was a comeback for the ages.
It was quite a buildup, of course.
As usual, Drew Brees was the voice of calm reason and pure class, head coach Sean Payton hinted at wry mischief (was it or was it not a Roger Goodell clown shirt under his pullover at the news conference?) and our politicians acted utterly and properly foolish amid frivolous lawsuits flying to and fro and incriminating billboards popping up all over Atlanta.
In other words, it was perfectly Louisiana, delightfully New Orleans.
But nationally the public opinion tide had already shifted into backlash mode by the time Super Bowl kickoff in Atlanta drew near without the Saints there.
Yeah, the beloved Saints got royally robbed. Everybody saw that. Commissioner Roger Goodell almost admitted it.
At times the No Flag seemed to be dominating the build-up for the NFL’s biggest event.
But as the week dragged on, the rest of the world seemed to be saying, enough already.
There was talk-show chatter that Saints fans were too bitter, too billboard-obsessed, too petty, too much in denial … and just get over it, for gosh sakes.
It’s just a football game.
They, whoever they were, didn’t know who they were dealing with.
Step aside, folks. New Orleans didn’t really care what the rest of the country thought and the Big Easy would do it its way.
So an enraged city expressed all the pent-up anger, the angst, the bitterness and the spite by … by throwing a big ol’ party, of course.
Threw an impromptu parade, too. One of the biggest grandest spectacles not involving Mardi Gras the city has ever seen.
It started seemingly by osmosis — probably alcohol-related — and eventually swamped almost the entire French Quarter, a moving mob full of joy and smiles and hugs and dancing to jazz music while heavy on sarcasm, chagrin and referee-costumed parody.
Who knows how it all started? Probably a couple of people bumped into each other. Somebody supplied beer, then another. A trumpet showed up, then a sax and suddenly where-you-got-dem-shoes were bouncing up and down Decatur Street and eventually engulfing the Quarter.
But no stray cars got turned over, let alone got burned. No bottlers were thrown. There was no rioting in the streets of a city not exactly known for law and order.
It was, in short, the jazz funeral version of massive, angry public protests.
The rest of the country had to be scratching its collective noggin. Who else, where else could have pulled off such an absurd thing?
Saints fans seemed to be celebrating being denied their shot in the big game with as much glee and elation as they partied while winning that booger nine years ago.
In truth, they probably had a lot more fun Sunday than any of the fans who were in Atlanta for the Super Bowl.
Saints fans boycotted the game on television and didn’t even miss much. Even the commercials were snoozers and the halftime show had fans begging for more boring football.
The Saints can claim boycott victory. It’s doubtful a relatively small TV market like New Orleans had that much effect, but it can still take credit for the lowest rating Super Bowl in 10 years. In New Orleans viewership dropped by more than half. Sunday night’s Nielsen rating in New Orleans was 26.1. Last year it was 52.4.
We’ll never know what might have happened if the Saints had taken their rightful place in Atlanta. But Saints fans are now free to assume that Brees would have mustered up more than 13 points.
So take a bow, New Orleans. You never looked better.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org