I freely admit my apartment got a litte dusty during parts of the U2 / Green Day performance, and when the New Orleans Saints took the field for tonight's game. A very emotional night for many of us, including those like myself who do not have ties to the city. I still get shocked when I see all of the pictures of what Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast Region. Living in New England for nearly twenty-eight years, Colorado for four, and Northern Virginia for the last five months, I have only lived through two realatively weak (Category 2 at strongest) hurricanes, and can not even imagine the havoc a storm like Katrina could wreak. Therefore, I cannot even imagine what the people who lost their homes, posessions, loved ones, et al are still going through. Words cannot express how I feel for them, and am rooting for the entire region to come back in a big time way.
It is great to see the National Football League back in the city of New Orleans tonight. While from what I have gathered, the city and region have a very long, difficult road to recovery, and really need to build up schools, fire, police, and overall infrastructure before anything: Football serves as a rallying point like nearly nothing else can. These people need things to cheer about and get behind. Few things bring thousands upon thousands of people together with a common cause like football. Not to mention the visibility the city will get from tonight's game, and that NFL games will pump a lot of money back into local economy (think hotels, restaurants, and bars).
Speaking of visibility, I will stay off the soapbox other than to say I feel it is totally appropriate to mix the reality of the storm-caused devastation and the resulting long, hard road to recovery with the celebration of the Saints' triumphant return to their home city. The large ESPN audience (I will go ahead and predict their largest ratings ever will come tonight) will see that while the Saints' return is a start, there is still a lot of work to do to rebuild the city. The Saints and their economic and psychological boost are both awesome, but let's not pretend New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region have recovered to pre-Katrina levels yet. It's going to be a long, hard road, but the car's on the road and is ready for a ride. Send some thoughts, prayers, and money their way to help the continued recovery. I know I will.
Commentary on commentators: many have wondering why Tony Kornheiser was hired to join the Monday Night Football broadcast team. While he's known for being a sarcastic smart-ass who like to rile people up, he has been nothing but utmost, pure class tonight. From his thoughts on his tour of the city to his general game commentary, he has reminded viewers of the reality of the situation in the context of tonight's game.
On a more lighthearted note, the fans are getting into the game to the point where they're booing the Falcons kicker, and ex-Saint. Rock!