A crowd swamped the area around the Superdome forming a huge human sea, creating a horrible traffic jam, but everyone wanted to be there for their team’s return. It meant so much more than a football game, it meant hope had come back, it meant that they were back to being a normal city, it was a ray of light in a year filled with disaster and disappointment, they just needed something else to think about.
In a very loud return to their brand new rebuilt stadium, the Saints gave the Big Easy something to cheer about. That day they were just an undefeated football team that made it look like it was a peace of cake to with a 23-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. But even with its shiny new cover, in the bottom of many hearts the New Orleans Saints Superdome remained a symbol of Katrina’s misery.
Just 90 seconds into the game that the New Orleans Saints flopped on a ball in the end zone and from then on the party was on. The defense beat up Michael Vick. Tom Benson danced off the field with his parasol. And even “The Superdome Special” worked to perfection. It included a Super Bowl-like pregame show that included a performance by groups U2 and Green Day. The Falcons’ first drive went three-and-out, and special teams demon Steve Gleason sliced through the middle of the Atlanta line to smother Michael Koenen’s punt. There was no doubt the Saints are back.
They struggled to take away the memories of tens of thousands of storm victims that suffered there in an unbearable heat; after last summer’s hurricane filled the city with floodwaters. The secret was not to talk about Katrina, not to talk about insurance, just talking about beating the Atlanta Falcons with a pack of beers and your neighbors.