Professor Samuel Nicolosi
December 4th, 2012
The New Orleans Saints: Taking Their City Back
February 7th, 2010. Super Bowl XLIV. Four years post Hurricane Katrina. As smoke cleared from “The Who” halftime concert, Thomas Morstead, the kicker for the New Orleans Saints, set to kick the ball off to the Indianapolis Colts to start the third quarter. With the Saints down 10 to 6, and Indianapolis’s Chad Simpson standing in his own end zone ready to return the kick off, Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton, called one of the gutsiest plays in the super bowl era of football. Thomas Morstead standing at his own 30 yard line executed the only on-side kick before the fourth quarter in NFL history. The ball traveled 15 yards before being touched by Hank Basket, an Indianapolis Colts player, who could not make a clean recovery. The ball ended up at the bottom of a pile of bodies all fighting for it. It took over a minute for the officials to clear bodies out of the pile and determine who definitively recovered the on-side kick. Chris Reis, a safety for the New Orleans Saints, came out of the pile victorious. The Saints would subsequently score a touchdown, taking their first lead of the game. This play in many ways parallels the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. It took courage, fortitude, determination, help, and luck, all characteristics of the American Identity, to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. All of these identities can be found in this play. Sean Payton had the courage to call an on-side kick, just as the people of New Orleans had the courage to repair a city that most outsiders had deemed unlivable post-Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints players had the fortitude and determination to carry out the on-side kick, just as the New Orleans inhabitants had the fortitude and determination to rebuild their homes, and businesses after Katrina. And the New Orleans Saints were helped by the inability by the Colts to, and were simply lucky to, recover the ball after the on-side kick, just as the people of New Orleans needed help and a little bit of luck to recover from one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the United States. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, destroying homes, families, and lives. The hardest hit was southern Louisiana, especially New Orleans, and the Lower Ninth Ward, both of which sit 5 to 15 feet below sea level. In addition to the category 3 hurricane bearing down on New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward the levees, built to withstand category 5 plus win speeds, failed and released the Mississippi river. The destruction caused by hurricane Katrina exceeded anything anyone had ever expected. People around the country sent anything they could, but many doubted that New Orleans would ever recover. The economy crippled, businesses destroyed, homes completely leveled, loved ones missing; the question reverberated throughout the entire nation- how could New Orleans ever recover? New Orleans was a ghost town, with no hope and no spirit. But in 2006, the New Orleans Saints gave this town a new sense of hope, and a reason to cheer. The New Orleans Saints helped to instill a new found sense of the American identity back into their city, just as the people of New Orleans helped to instill the same American identity in the Saints organization. The American Identity can take many different forms, and contains many different ideals and characteristics. The ideals of the American Identity could be love, courage, companionship, strength and many others. However, for a city, New Orleans, in complete chaos and absolute destruction the ideals of the American identity were practically nonexistent. In the months following Hurricane Katrina the spirit of the New Orleans citizens deteriorated into a core of disaster. The New Orleans Superdome, once a great beacon of pride, became the site of murders and rapes; mass looting...