Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oh When the Saints...

One more post, to finish up our trip to New Orleans. It's game day, and though you might already know the outcome of last week's game (and it didn't end on a good note for the Saints), it was still my favorite part of the trip.

We arrived at the Superdome bright and early. The bellman at the hotel was even surprised that we were leaving for the game almost 4 hours before kickoff. I like to enjoy the full experience.
Jim was happy to pose in his snazzy new shorts. He's a good sport about being my picture pawn.
And I have already posted this photo of Jim and his new friend in the tailgate lot. Jim thought it would be fun to roam around the lot and visit with the local fans.
This statue outside the Superdome was unveiled this summer, and is entitled 'Rebirth.' It depicts Saints player Steve Gleason blocking a punt in a game against the Atlanta Falcons on September 25, 2006, the night of the first game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. The statue symbolizes the rebuilding of the team, and, more importantly, the city of New Orleans following the devastation of the hurricane.
After his retirement in 2008, Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. He continues to be an inspiration to fans and teammates, and has started the Team Gleason Foundation which seeks to improve the lives of those living with ALS. Around New Orleans, they celebrated last Tuesday as 'blocked punt day.'

In the stadium, our seats were awesome. This is our view from the 4th row. You know, if I'm going all the way to NOLA for a game, I would really rather not sit up in the tippy top of the Superdome.
Coach Payton on-a-stick was in the house. Several of him.
It's the Mercedes Benz Superdome, you know.

Annnnnd, there's the man, Drew Brees.
He is so good to take time to sign autographs, especially for the kids.
I didn't ask for an autograph, just stood by to get some photos.
I don't want to be known as some crazy stalker lady. Hope it's not too late for that.
He signed for lots of fans before heading back to the locker room to suit up for the game.
We discovered that our seats gave us access to the bunker club lounge under the stands, where we enjoyed the flatscreen tvs, food service, and visiting with other fans.
This little boy was ready for the game with his ear protector earmuffs a la Baylen Brees after the superbowl. So cute.
Dressed in uniform and warming up for the game.
There is a new inflatable entry tunnel, with smoke and fire.

I didn't take this picture (obviously - I didn't have a field pass - maybe next time), but I liked it anyway.
Standing for the national anthem.
A huddle shot. This is always one of my favorite poses of my favorite QB. Reminds me of his days at Purdue.
Here is Drew after a touchdown pass to Colston. One more game and he will tie the record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass set by Johnny Unitas. That's some good company.
Checking the charts and photos after each drive.
The Jimmy Graham. Golden Graham.
Drew talking to the offensive coordinator. They do miss their head coach.
Sir Saint, one of the mascots.
Huddling up.
Not sure that's Michelle, but we had this couple sitting in front of us.
Drew watches the action at the end of the first half.
The night before the game, they had inducted some new members into the Saints Hall of Fame. Tom Benson, current team owner, was one of the inductees, and was honored with a ride around the field at halftime.
Also inducted was Deuce McAllister. He is a fan favorite, and cheers of "Deuuuuuuuuuuce" could be heard throughout the stadium.
While the Ole Miss band played in the background, they unveiled the portrait of Deuce that will hang in the HOF.
Jim decided to try an alligator sausage. I said no thanks.
Then he took a little snooze. Unusual, I know.
Back for the second half.
A touchdown to Lance Moore.
Game face on.
Jimmy Graham!

And at the end of the game, after having a nice lead, the Saints, unfortunately, found the score tied. Never good.
Starting the overtime. Chiefs won the toss. Never good again.
Helmets on the sidelines.
And Drew watches on the big screen as the Chiefs kick a field goal to win the game. Oh dear.
Congratulating the winners.
And exiting the field. Unhappily.
It's hard to lose. No one likes to lose, and I have been watching him long enough to know that Drew Brees hates to lose. Unfortunately, he and his team are struggling mightily so far this season. Sad, since the Super Bowl is set to be played in New Orleans this year, and nothing would be better than the home team playing the big game in their home stadium. And while I also hate to lose, I have learned to enjoy the game without allowing the outcome to completely ruin the experience. This was especially true back when I was watching my own kids play sports. Many many lessons can be learned, by athletes, parents, and fans, from winning and losing. Hard lessons, I know. So I will continue to enjoy watching, win or lose, and remind myself (as so many do) that there's always next year. :)

This Saints bead dog is outside the stadium. Small bead dogs are often made of Mardi Gras beads, and these larger-than-life dogs are found around the city to benefit animal adoption in Louisiana.
We decided to drown our sorrows with our favorite hurricane at Lafitte's.
A nice friend we met offered to take our picture together.
We walked around the French Quarter after the game (there's a party in New Orleans win or lose, but it did seem a bit more subdued after the loss), and decided to eat dinner at Tujague's. They offer a delicious 5 course dinner with a choice of 4 entrees. Their house specialty is beef brisket with creole sauce, served before the main course. Delicious!
The gumbo was very fresh and flavorful!
After a long day, we decided to try out one of the pedicabs we had seen around the Quarter. These were new since our last trip to NOLA, and seemed to be very popular. I chose this one because it had Archie Manning on the back. He's advertising the family restaurant.
Our friendly driver (bike rider), got us safely back to the hotel while sharing some information about the French Quarter and his life in New Orleans. Check it out if you ever find yourself on Bourbon Street in need of a ride!
We had a nightcap by the pool to end the evening. Jim took this photo since my phone battery died.
The next morning, with one last look at the Superdome, it was good-bye NOLA...
sunset over Dallas...
and back home again in Indiana.