…so we’re all living in this brave new world for just over 2 weeks now…The Saints are the Super Bowl champions! Repeat that again, slowly:
There are so many levels of surreal wrapped up in that statement. Now I fully recognize that in the whole scheme of things, this would seem to be rather insignificant. There are wars, hunger, poverty, disasters, etc. So “a football game…come on…move on already” is a perfectly justifiable response. But, it’s been hard to move on for us die-hard-life-long Who Dats. All of these world problems linger in our consciousness in varying degrees and a big football game can obviously provide some much needed distraction. Being so serious all the time eats at the soul. But this is bigger than a mere distraction.
And we have heard ad nauseam about the lift the Saints have provided for New Orleans and the Gulf coast post Katrina. Often over looked in those observations are the people who have endured hurricanes before (Camille, Betsy) and since (Rita, Gustav, and Ike) but Katrina has become the archetypical image of disaster and doom. The profound symbol of the Saints overcoming their history and all odds no doubt buoys the spirits of a region that just few short years ago was thought to be hopelessly and irreparably destroyed.
However, there is more to this “mere football game” than a heart warming Life-Time-Movie-Network story. Lost among the Ritz Cracker/beer/Go-Daddy ads and the ex-player-talking-heads filling up hours of time prior to the kick off was a profound piece by Wynton Marsalis.
“You ever wait for something for so long that waiting for it becomes the something?” —Wynton Marsalis
Have you? For life long Saints fans, that question resonates deeply. There were years where thoughts of simply winning more games than we lost was unimaginable. It took 21 years for us to accomplish that. (By the way…with a Saints fan, its always “we”…plural possessive, never third person…its personal) There were other years—late 80s, early 90s—when we were actually pretty good. Bobby Hebert…bayou kid, “cajun canon”…leads us to our first winning season, first playoffs, first division championship. Those were the years the “Dome Patrol” roamed the field. Ricky Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, and Vaughn Johnson…4 linebackers, 20 Pro Bowl appearances (in ’92 I think it was, all were selected the same year…first time in NFL history). In typical Saints karma…those years happened simultaneously the glory years of a little team called the San Francisco 49ers…Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, 5 Super Bowls…they happened to be in our division (why were the NEW ORLEANS Saints in the NFC West?). Remember the (once very rare) appearance on Monday Night Football when we jumped out to a 21 point half-time lead, only to lose the game in the end?
Enough. Way more of that than anyone wants to read. …so we find ourselves here in a strange new place. We’re not waiting for the Super Bowl anymore. I’m not sure what that means. It feels a little strange. I’m not sure I know how to do that. For so long, the waiting was the something. The hope and expectation. The anxiety of wondering how we would ultimately lose. That’s all different. (awkward way to end a post…but I’ve got to get to work)
5 thoughts on “…Saints and Super Bowl…”
I still like the comparison you made in bible study with the coming of the Messiah to the Saints making the Super Bowl. It really helped me to understand you Saints fans better. But more important, it gave me a greater understanding of the Jewish people’s anticipation for the Messiah. Unfortuately, I don’t have that great anticipation for the second coming of Jesus, and I don’t see much evidence of it anywhere else.
I wonder if that’s one part of the waiting as well Wes. There were obviously folk awaiting Messiah who had given up on that actually being reality. They were moving on with their lives…sick and skeptical of all the waiting, probably cynical toward all the religious posturing that went along with the waiting. And then you had the true believers who were ever expectant…always faithful, always hopeful. No doubt some of these were actual members of the religious leadership. This is the there-everytime-the-doors-were-open group. But I know that group is easily manipulated by the cynical religious establishment as well. This cynicism doesn’t really believe all that stuff but it’s a good gig and there are some easy targets out there.
I’m not sure where I want to go from here. The believer in me wants to talk about the ‘realm of God” perspective that is over all that (which when presented to the cynic, sounds pretentious. I’m going to do another post about this waiting thing.
And what about those former Saints fans who moved away and because of circumstance and years of disappointment gave up and began pulling for the Vikings….wait that’s probably just me, isn’t it?
It is all different for Saints fans now. The question is what next? Will everyone still be happy next season if the big win doesn’t come? Of course, the wanting does become the thing so often. I think some of this is about how we understand happiness. Most people are as happy as the next big thing they are looking forward too-THAT job, THAT vacation,THAT dream house. Then those things materialize and once the moment passes, they don’t feel happy anymore or at least not as happy as they thought they would be. Usually we find happiness in the journey and the anticipation but think it’s about the goal. Then we start looking around for the next thing. In this case, how are Saints fans dealing with both the end of the journey and the loss of an identity as the ultimate underdog?
Jessica…that’s where I wanted to go with this post but didn’t have time when I was writing it (it was also getting too long). I’m probably going to do another post on the Marsalis quote…it’s just too good and perceptive. I’m probably going to take it in a theological direction… How is our faith and theology changed by the posture assumed once we are “saved”? Often “born again believers” feel they have arrived once personal salvation is “achieved”. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “Kingdom (realm) of God”. If that is the point…bringing about God’s Realm…then that obviously hasn’t arrived yet. And we are still part of the waiting…and the working to bring it about. (Does that make any sense?)
It makes a lot of sense. Merging my Southern Baptist, born again roots with my husband’s Methodist upbringing and now raising my kids in a Methodist tradition has made me think a lot about these kinds of things. John Wesley, as I’m beginning to understand him, saw salvation less about a moment and more about the journey from our first awareness and acceptance of God toward a fulfillment of God’s grace. This has challenged me to think about my place and role in the kingdom of God.
I’ve also been mulling the kingdom of God after some recent reads. If you haven’t read them yet, you might want to check out John Dominic Crossan’s _God and Empire_ and, my read for our Lenten book study _The Last Week_ by Marcus Borg an John Dominic Crossan (so far, good stuff here). In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for that next post.