Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief
New Orleans A City of Traditions
New Orleans is a City that is filled with rituals, some taking on a sacred quality. Like red beans and rice on Mon. Super Sunday, where the colorful plumes of the Mardi Gras Indians are on full display, the Brass Band Tradition where the marriage of horns and percussions marry is the heartbeat of our walk through life in the most international and mystical City in the United States.
It is this gumbo of life that is the flavor of how life is lived in New Orleans. This spirit is not lost when one thinks of the City’s football franchise the New Orleans Saints. In its over 50 years of existence; this year for the Black and Gold and the Who Dat Nation it’s been one that’s been affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. And while the stands are not filled with fans, the spirit of the Black and Gold and life in New Orleans continues to live on.
This season the Superdome is not filled to capacity with fans, or the smell of food grilling along Poydras Avenue during tailgating events and the camaraderie of the fans supporting the Saints. But this hasn’t stopped them from supporting the Black and Gold in their journey hopefully towards Tampa for this year’s Superbowl.
Forever Fleur De Lis
This year the Saints are having a great season and on the way to another playoff berth.
“I am satisfied because our program is as solid as Ms. Benson continues the Legacy of Tom Benson and that’s what it is all about. Taking what you have and grow upon it. We have Drew Brees as our anchor and we have Alvin Kamara and most importantly our defense have showed up and showed out every game for the most part this season,” says Craig Jones, a New Orleans native and diehard Saints fan who owns Mardi Gras Tyme, a catering and spice company, based in Washington D.C. area.
In 2020 the season there have not been fans in the stands, but this did not stop the Saints faithful from supporting the Black and Gold.
“New Orleans that today you cannot smell the cooking on the grill or the sounds of people celebrating and supporting the Saints in unusually eerie, but after the Saints win you get the same feel whether it is 3000 people or 50,000 people you get that same feel if they win it is a win for everybody,” says Charlie Tenner Jr. who works in law enforcement and is a culture bearer who is a Mardi Gras Indian.
With him this is a family affair as they have traveled as far as London to support the Saints, this year was no different as they went to Chicago for a game.
“We traveled to Chicago in October to the game and it was totally different, we didn’t realize that the city was shutting down due to the Pandemic. It was not too much we could do in the city, but we were there to support the Saints. We couldn’t get in the game, so we found a nice sports bar and made the best of it.”
Staying Connected in Black and Gold
Many are finding new ways and innovative ways to stay connected as Saints fans explains Timothy Ambrose, a graduate of Xavier University and presently is a Fellowship recipient at Loyola University Institute of Politics. In addition to working in the area of Juvenile Justice. He’s been compared to a Barack Obama as a leader among his generation.
“We as young fans are using other means to stay connected as Saints fans. There are just so many ways from social media to conventional media to keep up with the Saints. I can say it is a bit disappointing not being able to attend games, but many of us who are fans of the Saints that I know we all stay connected using social media to show our support for the Saints and more broadly our connection as people who love the City of New Orleans.”
The Fleur De Lis is Not Only Symbolizes A Football Team but A Way of Life
The Saints are more than a football team but have come to become part and parcel of a way of life in the Crescent City.
“On a scale of 1-10, 11 the Saints are that important to New Orleans and to Louisiana. The Saints have been a pillar of who we are that’s akin to going to church, to Super Sunday, or any of our other traditions and things that define us. Watching the Saints, it is a very ritualistic day for us in New Orleans on Sunday. You think about Sunday going to church and coming home and watching the New Orleans Saints game that’s our Sunday in New Orleans,” says Craig Jones.
While the Who Dat Nation is always rooting for the Saints, the games serve a dual purpose even during the Pandemic according to Charlie Tenner, Jr., “We use watching the game as family time. We might boil crawfish, pull the grill out we still celebrate and watch the game like we are in the dome it is family time for us.”
The Saints have a way of bringing people together in a way spanning the spectrum of race, class, and zip code in the City. Where the everyday divide that exist somehow disappear in matters of the Black and Gold and the Fleur De Lis symbolizes more than a football team, but a local identity.
“The Saints are like the Soul of the City. It gave people from all over something to believe in. After the Super Bowl whether you were from West End, Kenner, Downtown in Tremé or from the Magnolia in Uptown we were all one as Who Dats. It’s like we are all on the same team. In New Orleans we have been a gumbo pot, and this is an extension of that as it relates to our identity,” says Timothy Ambrose.
Those thoughts are also echoed by Tenner, “When the Saints play it is everybody from different backgrounds coming together as one, that is what I like about the football season here in New Orleans. You don’t get the negativity.”
In 2021, it will be challenging times for our City, nation, and world.
For New Orleans, the Saints are a symbol of more than just what goes on the field. The Fleur De Lis has come to symbolize unity, hope and faith for a better future for those who identify and call New Orleans home whether they are here in the physical form or in spirit. Cheering on the City and its rich traditions and way of life.