Sorry, I have been absent from the page for so long. Life has gotten awfully busy what with parties and parades and such. Last night was Muses, Hermes and Krewe d’Etat. We are in the alternate reality called “Carnival Season” where nothing counts but everything matters. So a few missed blog posts, along with other “important” deadlines, won’t go amiss.
We here in New Orleans are still awash in stunned joy. The Bless You Boys returned victorious from the Super Bowl. Did it really happen? And how did it happen? Yes. And who knows?
Here’s what I think happened. Everyone with any sense, including the Leader of the Free World, said that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback in the history of the universe. He’s impossible to beat. The Colts are invincible because they are led by this fantastic football genius. The Saints made a good effort getting there, but folks . . . c’mon get serious. They don’t stand a chance against the formidable skills of Manning, who is a super-game-strategy-devising computer that happens to travel around inside the body of a man. Yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda.
(Frankly, I don’t want to hear any more about it. In this game, Brees made 32 out of 39 pass completions. That’s an 82% success rate for those of you not quick with math. Say what you like, but that’s an arm.)
And you know what? Manning is great. Several times during the game, even Geoff remarked on a Manning-delivered, surgical pass, “Wow, that was a great throw.” I had to ask him to please stop complimenting the opposition’s arm. You won’t find a more passionate and faithful Saints devotee than Geoff, but even he felt moved by the sheer beauty of Manning’s precision. Genius has that effect on people. But you know what works even better than genius? Poetry.
Drew Brees is the poet because he makes non-ordinary connections. While Manning is the prodigious machine, Brees is the inspired maniac. He never does what anyone expects him to do. In that vein, Porter intercepted the pass because he had studied the film, and he knew Manning would throw low, not high, because Manning always throws low in that play. Sure enough, Manning did exactly what was expected of him, like any good computer, which is why Porter got in there to take the ball away and run 72 yards for the touchdown that handed the world championship to the Saints. That was not luck, but a lovely case of preparation meets opportunity meets sympatico meets gumbo. Manning has no mystery to him. Brees and his Saints are redolent with mystery and mysticism. Here is the dark, inexplicable ground, that undiscovered country of intuition that gives rise to poems and nutty on-side kicks at the opening of the second half. Poets win against computers every time because they play with pure moxie.
The Belle of Amherst made this observation of our Saintly revelation.
# 254, c. 1861
“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —
And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —
I’ve heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.
While I visited my family in Maryland for Christmas a few weeks ago, I needed to check on the Saints’ progress in the game against the Buccaneers. So I asked my brother to check the score for me on NFL.com.
He said, “Who are you? And what have you done with my sister?”
True, this preoccupation is a little out of character for me, but you’d have to be made of stone to resist the Saints this year. I comprise many elements, but stone is not one of them.
Although I am, relatively speaking, a latecomer to the Passion of the New Orleans Saints, I can hear the forty-three years of hoping. It rings most loud when I listen to men talk about this Super Bowl game. These are men, born and convicted, native New Orleanians, over the age of 43 or thereabouts, who have spent all their years, watching their beloved team bumble, stumble, reach and fall, and then reach again. (They remember Archie Manning running for his life.) Now these men talk with a glow in their voices. A whole city of grown men, speak the free and weightless song of boys, buoyant with real optimism. Not imagined, nor merely hoped for, now that joy is truth. Their faces belie their age, but their voices ring like new bells. The hope that Emily named in her poem echoes behind their song. The inextinguishable hope of these men, has cracked open and flows into real-time. That hope was the low grounding tone, the uterine contraction, a fierce muscling into the world of this now fully realized, three-dimensional, undeniable truth: The Saints Do Not Suck.