On Saturday night I went to our local bar and watched my first American Football match. And what a match. The New Orleans Saints were playing the Philidelphia Eagles.
As way of background, the Saints have been one of those teams that could only be loved by local fans. One of those teams you root for but know only a miracle can help them. For 40 years they have been nicknamed the "aints" because of their love for failure.
There is another explanation for this addiction to failure and this being New Orleans it is not surprising that it is steeped in voodoo and superstition. The local folklore goes that the superdome (where the saints play) has been cursed. Marie Leveau, the voodoo "queen", from the 19th century is "offically" buried in St Louis cemetry No. 1 but the folklore tale has it that she was really buried in the cemetry that lies beneath the superdome (it was built on a cemetry). So Marie being the voodoo high priestess is not so happy about a bunch of 300lb men running about on her burial plot and therfore she cursed the team and the superdome. This is why so many New Orleans residents did not go to the superdome during Katrina - they were concerned about what Marie might do to them (the subsequent horrors that went on in there the folklorists took as proof of Marie's continuing power).
But this is a new season and the Saints are winning and have discarded their old nickname. So the new local folklore theory is that because of what happened during Katrina, Marie Leveau has decided to lift her curse.
There is also another interesting Football oddity in this town. It is "Who Dat". When the Saints score or win the fans all chant "Who dat, who dat dem gonna beat dem saints". This town right now is going "Who Dat" crazy.
So on Saturday I learnt a bit about the rules and could follow the game (thanks to one of my friends) and chanted along with the who dat fans. It was a very exciting game with the Saints up 6-0 then the Eagles 13-6 and so it continued until finally with Marie's backing, the Saints WON!! Our local diner now has a sign in the window proclaiming "We now sell Eagle eggs"!!!
They are now one game away from the superbowl and fans in New Orleans are rubbing their eyes in disbelief and cannot quite believe this is really happening. But if there is one city in this country that deserves this excitement it is New Orleans. So I hope everyone in the world will unite around the Saints on Sunday at 2pm central time and help them battle the Chicago Bears because for New Orleans it is least the world can do.