Are You Ready For Some Healing?
Last night's telecast of the first New Orleans Saints' game back in the Superdome was emotional television that lived up to the occasion. The first third of the telecast was an absolute tear-jerker, especially the Monday Night Countdown pre-game show. Now I could see someone complain that they should have used only New Orleans musicians but Green Day and U2 are some pretty huge acts to throw at the situation. It worked, and the careful balance between a joyous football game and the reality of how much is still screwed up, was perfect. Tony Kornheiser's opening remarks were so strong that even Howard Cosell would have been knocked out. Tony captured what this was about beautifully, and delivered it amazingly well.
The broadcast didn't overwhelm the viewer with the political stuff, but it was there. Spike Lee said it in the booth by saying he didn't want to pull a Kayne West and criticize the government's incredibly incompetent response, but somehow he got his point across. There were so many parts of the story, but that part had to be addressed, and it was. I mean this was the Superdome - the actual refugee site where people waited 5 days for our President to quit clearing brush and figure this out. The first President Bush did the coin flip and it was appropriate that it went against New Orleans.
The game itself was surreal. I don't know if the Saints are that good, but they dominated. The first inkling that a storybook result might not be attained, came when a Saints player let a Michael Vick fumble bounce off his hands and go out of bounds. I thought, "Here we go." Sometimes sports doesn't respond to emotional needs. For example, after 9/11, New York really needed the Yankees to win, and though they did some spectacular things at home, they went out to Arizona and lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Diamondbacks, who apparently hadn't gotten the storybook memo.
Last night, a couple of plays after the lost fumble opportunity, the Saints blocked a punt for a touchdown. The rest of the first half was awesome - almost as if it were scripted as the announcers kept saying - but by the 3rd quarter the telecast started slipping, simply because the Falcons couldn't make it close. In the end it was a pretty one-sided game. There was also a great opportunity for Reggie Bush to do something spectacular but that never quite happened. All in all, though it was a spectacular telecast and football fans everywhere should be very, very proud.