Brandy On New Orleans


Brandy Pigeon

How Sweet the Sound

By Brandy Pigeon

We've all heard the stories of people who have had near death experiences, and I was never really sure if I was a believer in such things or not. I'm hear to say, they're real; and for those who come back from the light... it's awesome. With three minutes and twenty one seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Reggie Bush - the Saints super star running back - fumbled the ball and gave the Philadelphia Eagles another chance to tie or win the game. My heart stopped. I was certain I was moments away from having full blown cardiac arrest, because I felt actual pain in my chest. In the Superdome, there was a collective gasp, as 70,000 spectators saw their hopes and dreams for this Cinderella team come crashing to the ground.... Astroturf to be precise. The Eagles had the ball and needed only one first down to be in fieldgoal range and tie it up. That's when we, every person sporting their favorite player's jersey, holding signs, and showing off painted body parts, WE decided there was no way these visitors from the Northeast were going to come into our house and rob our boys of a win they had all ready earned in our minds. 

We got loud.... Really loud. We screamed, we banged on railings and seats, we waved pom poms, and anything else we could to make noise. We knew we had to get the ball back in the hands of the black and gold, and get those "dirty birds" back on defense. And it worked. It actually worked. Quarterback Jeff Garcia was so rattled by the noise levels, he couldn't find open receivers, couldn't call plays, and couldn't pick up a first down. We did our job, we gave our offense one final chance to put this thing away, and take these Saints fans somewhere they'd never been...The NFC Championship Game. 

In order to run out the clock; however, we had to get a first down. Just one, and victory would finally be ours. First down - Deuce McAllister picks up three yards by pounding through the defensive front; Second Down - another handoff to McAllister who bullies his way up the field and gains six more yards; Third Down - third and one... one yard, a mere thirty-six inches, stands between us and a franchise first, NFC Championship game. The crowd in unison begins to beg, actually demand, McAllister get the ball. DEUCE, DEUCE, DEUCE! Head coach Sean Payton agrees, or maybe he just decided it would be prudent to obey the desperate crowd, and makes the call. One yard, that's all this fan favorite needs to send this place into hysteria, and in typical McAllister fashion, #26 goes the distance and then some. He makes a gain of five. I guess he decided to pick up the four extra yards just for good measure. That's when I saw the light. 

Surely there are nay-sayers out there who think it was just the enormous stadium lights and two bloody marys that caused my euphoria; but I know what I saw. I've seen those stadium lights more times than I can remember, and this wasn't that fluorescent hue I've come to love so much. This was more yellowish, sunnier if you please. I was weightless and could see the the entire stadium as I hovered above the crowds. I'd died and gone to heaven. It lasted for only a few seconds; but what a beautiful place. When I returned, I was sobbing. Literally, full blown heaving, and completely unable to contain the emotions that poured out of me. As I looked around at the people to my left and right, and front and back, I realized that I was not alone in my emotional flood. 

The seats in front of mine have had the same two guys sitting in them all season. They're what you'd call manly men. We high five after great plays, discuss which coaching plays were genius, and how we could improve the ones that don't seem to work so well. In a dance like fashion, I pass my five dollar bill to them to give to the cotton candy man, and after so many weeks of spending game times together, they instinctively know without even asking, that my daughter always wants pink...never blue cotton candy, they know to give the vendor one of the two dollars leftover as a tip, and they always hand the sugary treat directly to her and the remaining dollar to me. These two guys, I've always assumed they were brothers; but I'm not positive, are part of my landscape, my memories, my enjoyment of Sundays in the dome. They are always in great spirits, and have even been the starters of many "DE-Fense, DE-Fense" cheers throughout the season. Without thought, I reached down, after Deuce's miraculous yardage gain, to hug them. There they were, two guys, two die hard Saints fans, my two Superdome pals, sobbing in the same uncontrollable manner as I was. We hugged so tight thought my back might be crushed. It was then, I looked around and realized this type of reaction, these types of bonds had happened all over the Superdome. I will definitely miss them in the off-season, and I really hope they keep their seats next year. I don't think we ever exchanged names, just Saints stories, and game-day memories throughout the years; but after going through such an historical season together, I don't think calling them my friends would be an overstatement. We had a hard time accepting and coming to terms with what had just taken place on the field. We'd become so conditioned, over decades, to losing, that it felt like a dream we were sure someone would soon wake us from. But this was no dream, this was real. For the first time in Saints history, we weren't let down. We weren't leaving dome wondering if next season would turn out better. We won. We ALL won. We may not suit up and get positioned on the field for kickoff; but we were part of the team, and we felt like we'd won just as much as the players had. We were worn and weary. Our throats were raw from screaming, our hands sore from clapping, and now we were emotionally spent. But it was worth it. 

I'll be heading to Chicago next week to cheer for my team as they take on the Bears for the division title, and more importantly, an invitation to the Super Bowl. I'm hoping I get my voice back by then; but if I don't, I guess I'll buy a bull horn. Whatever it takes, right? It's hard for me to imagine how it might feel to be NFC Champions; but when I do think of things like championships and Super Bowl rings, my heart skips a beat. I don't speak aloud of daydreams like these, of course, but in my mind I see the black and gold confetti falling, that shiny silver trophy with "New Orleans Saints" inscribed on it, I hear the crowd roaring as "When The Saints Go Marching In" plays in the background... and oh, How sweet the sound.

Brandy welcomes feedback at brandypigeon@1saintsfan.com. Include permission to post in your letter, if you are willing.