Pigs flew. Hell froze over. The world came to an end. Baptists drank their own beer.
God Almighty, the New Orleans Saints just won the Super Bowl!
For 43 years, people like me -- people from the Gret Stet of Loosiana -- have been settling for picking a temporary favorite team in the Super Bowl because the Super Bowl was no place for our team, the oft-woeful Saints. For the likes of us, the NFL experience often was best taken in through the eye holes of a paper bag.
The one with "Ain'ts" written on the outside.
FOR 43 YEARS, more often than not, when you told somebody who wasn't from your neck of the woods that you were a Saints fan, the response was laughter. Or condolences. One was as bad as the other.
We done wid all dat now. Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Not a damn body, dat who!
Louisiana is a poor state, one where the schools weren't good enough, and the government wasn't honest enough, and the jobs didn't pay enough, and our expectations weren't high enough. Sometimes, we figured we were just born to lose.
Born to lose on the pro gridiron, and born to lose in the greater scheme of America. No. 1? That's where Louisiana finished in all the bad national rankings -- illiteracy . . . poverty . . . corruption . . . whatever.
YEARS AGO, a favorite New Orleans sportscaster said he'd parade down Bourbon Street in a fancy dress if the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl. Last week, thousands -- tens of thousands -- of cross-dressing New Orleans men paraded down Bourbon in honor of Buddy Diliberto, who never lived to make good on his promise.
This week . . .
Pigs flew. Hell froze over. The world came to an end. And Baptists drank their own damn beer.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph! There is hope. The impossible is possible.
Who knows? In another 43 years, Louisiana may be on top of all the good lists and the bottom of all the bad.
Who knows? Louisiana might be a rich state, one where the schools are the best anywhere, and the government surpasses Scandinavian levels of orderliness and efficiency, and the jobs pay well indeed, and our expectation is one of excellence.
IN THE WAKE of this most improbable of nights, my mind keeps drifting to what Winston Churchill told his battered, bloodied, frightened nation in 1941 after Nazi Germany had failed -- just -- to bomb it into oblivion:
You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.BACK TO the unlikely present, it seems to me we can take the same lesson from this football band of free agents, late-round draft picks, castoffs and reclamation projects: "[N]ever give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
It might look hopeless. It might take 43 damn years. But never give in . . . "never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in."