Celebrating the ‘Who Dat’ nation

By Jazzy Davenport

No matter who you were pulling for in Super Bowl XLIV, you couldn’t have been upset with the outcome. Coach Sean Payton, a Naperville native, led the New Orleans Saints to victory over the incredible Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts. Yes—the same Colts that beat our Chicago Bears just three seasons ago.

New Orleans is a city that has suffered so much since 2005, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita flooded 80 percent of the city, as well as others throughout the Gulf region. More than 1,000 died, and nearly one million more were either evacuated or advised to take refuge in the Louisiana Superdome.

The very same Superdome that housed many dying residents nearly five years ago has now become a symbol of success during the Saints’ quest for the Vince

Lombardi trophy.

Since 2005, the city’s recovery has been slow at best. Because of the lack of governmental attention and assistance, residents have been forced to rebuild as a community. That same resilience is evident in the team that contributed a large part to the city that was underwater. The Saints team showed that same relentless spirit and applied it

both on and off the field. The team that was once nicknamed the “Aints” finally reached and won the Super Bowl after decades of waiting. No one deserves the win more than the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The win over New Orleans native Peyton Manning and the Colts proved to be much more than just a championship. It serves as an emotional boost for The Big Easy—quickly proven by the early decision to close schools the day after the Super Bowl and plan for a parade, despite the outcome.

In a post-game press conference, quarterback of the Saints Drew Brees, called it “destiny” and admitted that Hurricane Katrina inspired their win. “We’re here because of [our residents’]0 strength and everything they fought through here the last few years,” he said.

The city, made up of nearly 70 percent blacks and famous for Mardi Gras, wasted no time in celebrating the emotional victory. A reported 800,000 members of the “Who Dat Nation” lined the streets of New Orleans dressed in black and gold and accessorized with beads to catch a glimpse of the champions carrying the trophy; a sight they’d waited 43 years to witness.

It is truly a story that every American can appreciate. I guess it should be no surprise that 106 million people tuned in to the big game, making it the most-watched TV program in U.S. history.