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The New Orleans Saints have started their season 5-1. Supposedly this is the NFL’s feel-good story of the year. Well, guess what? I don’t feel good for them. I don’t feel good about their record. I think it’s abnormal. And I hope they start to lose.
I realize a hurricane destroyed the city of New Orleans last year. I realize people died. And I realize, only a year ago, the place where the Saints play football was being used to house thousands of homeless refugees. The whole thing sucked. I hope the Big Easy bounces back better than ever—for its sake, as well as for Girls Gone Wild.
But I’m not buying this idea that the Saints are “everyone’s second favorite team” now. I’m not buying this idea that everyone should support them. Why? Would that make things all better? Would the Saints winning football games somehow bring back the people who died?
In 2001, nineteen a-holes stole four planes and turned one beautiful morning into a funeral for 3,000 people. It was largely considered the worst day in American history. Roughly a month later, the New York Yankees played the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of the best, most memorable, most gut-wrenching World Series that anyone who still watches baseball could ever remember seeing. To make a long story short, the Yankees lost. And life went on.
I was a lifelong Yankee fan. I was someone who grew up outside the Big Apple. It offended me that anyone rooted for those cheesy, expansion-draft D-backs that year. Even President Bush said he was pulling for Arizona—said he was tired of seeing the Yankees always winning. What did that mean? Was he tired of New York? Tired of America? Tired of freedom? No. It meant this time wasn’t different, even if people had died this time.
The Yanks had won the previous year. And the year before that. And the year before that. In fact, they’d won four of the previous five World Series, for a grand total of 26. People were tired of seeing this. And this shouldn’t have changed just because there were no Twin Towers.
Yankee fans have always been offended by the idea of other teams existing. And fans of other teams have always been offended by the Yankees. George Bush wasn’t rooting against New York City in 2001; he was rooting against a team that he hated, which happened to play there. In this way, the president was rooting for normalcy. And that’s the way I am looking at New Orleans.
The Saints were not a winning franchise before Hurricane Katrina. Nor should I want them to be a winning franchise after. If the Saints are winning now, that’s great for Saints fans. It’s not great for Eagles fans when the Saints beat the Eagles; it’s not great for Falcons fans when the Saints beat the Falcons.
Anyone who cheers for the Saints for the sake of New Orleans misses the point here. You think, by them winning, the city will “bounce back.” That’s impossible. Bouncing back means returning to normal. And normal is New Orleans football futility.
If you really care about New Orleans, you will root for the Saints to be dreadful, and for Saints fans to pack the Superdome anyway. That’s how it was before, and so it should be thereafter.
Unless, of course, you hate freedom. In which case Katrina changed everything.