Stupidity? Maybe. However, for whatever reason, when the Houston Texans passed on Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush, the New Orleans Saints were able to draft him. It marked a change in fortune for the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Last September, New Orleans was symbolized by the Superdome, the Saints' home, because of the destruction and horrors that it witnessed. However, as New Orleans rebuilds, Bush now seems to be a metaphor for the city. He's the potential, the hope, and the future for a better New Orleans.
The Saints played their first home game last night since Hurricane Katrina attacked New Orleans over a year ago. They were supposed to be overmatched against the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons. They weren't.
The Saints came at the Falcons as strong as Katrina's winds, beating them 23-3, and left Atlanta rebuilding for next week.
The win boosted the Saints record to 3-0 and brought them some respect. After winning their first two games against doormats Cleveland and Green Bay, few people believed the Saints would be a decent team. However, this win silenced those critics.
Not only did the Saints beat the Falcons, they destroyed the Falcons. Atlanta led the league with 558 rushing yards during the first two games and led every team but one by more than 100 rushing yards per game. Against the Saints, they managed only 117, a total which would have been much lower without a 30-yard scramble by Michael Vick in the fourth quarter. The Saints defense also limited Vick to 12 for 31 passing while sacking him five times.
The decommission of the Falcons was on from the first series of the game. After the Saints' defense held Atlanta to a three-and-out, their special team blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown. Later in the game, the special team blocked a short 25-yard field goal when the defense managed to keep the Falcons out of the end zone after a first and goal on the two-yard line.
Last night, the Superdome was once again the location for severe destruction. However, this was the kind of destruction New Orleans' residents had hoped would take place in the Superdome.
It is the kind of destruction that New Orleans has waited much longer than a year to see.
The Saints have not gone to the playoffs since 2000, when they defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-28 for their only playoff win in the team's 40-year history. Since 2000, the Saints went 32-32 from 2001-2004, before going 3-13 in the aftermath of Katrina last season.
New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, claimed publicly that he not only planned to fully restore New Orleans, but that he wanted to make it better than it was before. The hope is the same on the gridiron.
After last season, any fan should be happy for the Saints to post an 8-8 record, but is it too early for them to start asking for more?
I don't think so. If the mayor wants more, so can his constituents.
The Saints have reason to believe that they can be better. Their offense resembles that of the San Diego Chargers that was third and fifth in points scored in 2004 and 2005, respectively. First of all, the Saints are led by former Charger quarterback Drew Brees. Secondly, although, the offense does not contain any standout wide receivers, Joe Horn is a tough veteran, much like Keenan McCardell was in San Diego. Bush resembles stud Charger running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, in his ability to not only run, juke, and scorch defenses, but also offer a throwing option for Brees. The Saints offense is further powered by Deuce McAllister, who provides a one-two punch at running back with Bush. This tandem is similar to the Bush/LenDale White tandem that ran the University of Southern California to a 37-2 record and two National Championships from 2003-2005.
The defense seems less known in New Orleans. However, after limiting the Falcons to a single field goal, the defense is seventh in points against per game and fifth in yards against per game.
The Saints will benefit from being in a relatively weak division. In the NFC South, they are currently the only team averaging more than 15 points a game. The Carolina Panthers were thought to be Super Bowl contenders but have struggled early in the season; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost their starting quarterback, and even with him, started the season 0-3; and New Orleans just proved that they are a better team than the Atlanta Falcons.
It's too early to start planning the victory parade on Bourbon Street. New Orleans has yet to prove themselves against some of the leagues powerhouses, such as Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, who they will play in November. However, it is not too early to start believing in New Orleans again.
Hurricane Katrina devastated this city, but it is rebuilding and it is improving, and so is its football team.
Maybe it wasn't just the Texans stupidity that landed Reggie Bush in New Orleans. Maybe it was destiny and a symbol for the city.
Maybe Bush is a sign that this city will become better than it ever was before. Maybe it will become one of the best cities in the United States. And, maybe the New Orleans Saints will win their first Super Bowl.