To keep his team from experiencing emotional overload at kickoff, Coach Sean Payton put the Saints through their first practice at the Superdome on Friday night. When it was over, he gathered the players in a semicircle at the 50-yard line and turned off the lights.
One of the video boards played a movie about Hurricane Katrina — houses leveled, neighborhoods ruined, a stadium torn asunder.
“I got a tingling sensation over my whole body,” defensive end Charles Grant said. “We talked for a while afterward about everything we have seen in the past year. We want to make this stadium home again.”
Tonight on ESPN the new Superdome will be unveiled for the country to see. U2 and Green Day will perform and for the national Anthem it’s: Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and Kermit Ruffins.
There is much to be done yet in a city that is far far from being OK but this is a special moment. It’s another marking of return and resiliency. It’s a necessary symbolic passage. I plan to take it all in tonight and enjoy the show. But I’ll remember it is a symbolism tempered by reality.
I am not so sure that a functioning Superdome is a symbol of a functioning city. If the city were functioning properly, this game would not be such a big deal. It would be expected.
Make a list of all the services a city needs to function. From health care, to police, to firefighters, to electricity, to sewerage and water, to small businesses, to infrastructure upkeep, to housing – none of them are “bouncing back.” Limping back, maybe. But no bouncing.
This Monday we will prove to the nation that we can still put on a world class show – even when we haven’t yet recovered. But the next day, will anybody be trying to prove to the city’s residents that we can put on a world class recovery? Anybody?
Let me repeat: I will be in that number. I will be distracted for a day by Jesus in cleats (“Cleatus” for short?). But it’s only one day, and I am not waiting for a savior to come down from on high to fix New Orleans. I don’t believe in Jesus in a Tyvek suit.</blockquote