Friday, February 19, 2010

The Final Post

In Now I Can Die in Peace, one of the two hundred and six books about Boston winning the World Series, Bill Simmons wrote modestly about the legacy of the Red Sox. Rather than describing how this win would change baseball history forever, how Boston would be a powerhouse for years to come, he focused on the fans. Above all, this championship made them normal. They didn't feel cursed; they didn't feel snakebitten; they felt the same "wait'll next year" optimism that every other team's fans did. After the 2004 title, the Red Sox became just another team.

I've written at length about how snakebitten New Orleans Saints fans have felt over the years. In fact, I first learned what the word "snakebit" meant when my father used it during a playoff loss to the Eagles. In the two weeks following Super Bowl XLIV, I've tried to process the Saints' win, and I've thought a lot about Simmons' thesis and how it might apply to New Orleans. Then I remembered: the New Orleans Saints have never been and will never be "just another team."

There is something in the air here that has kept the franchise alive through so many terrible seasons. Hope kept us afloat during the Aaron Brooks/Jeff Blake/Billy Joe Tolliver/Kerry Collins/Danny Wuerffel/Heath Shuler/Jim Everett/Wade Wilson years. Hope kept us afloat during a year without any real home games. Hope kept me afloat during all of those Sundays growing up when my mom told me I was wasting my time watching a team of losers. Back then, I told her, "It'll all be worth it when they win the Super Bowl." As usual, I was wise beyond my years. This is a spiritual city, and its loyalty to its longest-tenured sports team is rooted within that type of faith. Despite the bags on our heads or the squirrels calling in to Buddy D's radio show, this is a city that cares a bit too much about a silly team. In New Orleans, you can tell from people's attitudes whether or not we won on Sunday. It's always been that way. For the past two weeks, as my hand has healed from high-fiving random strangers, you can tell that we won the big one.

When the Red Sox won the World Series, bandwagon fans came out of the woodwork, but that hasn't happened with the Saints yet. Everyone here shares a love for this team, and no one begrudges anyone else for a championship t-shirt. Everyone has suffered in his own way, so everyone can celebrate in his own way. Black and gold were as popular over Mardi Gras as purple, green, and gold, and that trend shows no sign of stopping. As I've taken in the celebration over the past couple of days, I've wondered: doesn't anyone have a job? In fact, as a teacher, I'm waiting for the excuses to end. We were off the day after the Super Bowl, but then kids slept through school because of the parade. How long can this continue? "Coach, my Sports Illustrated subscription came in yesterday. I was reading the hardcover commemorative book." "Mr. B, I was up all night re-watching the game on the Super Bowl DVD." And the proud surprises keep coming. I was reminded today that we'll get the last pick in the first round of the next NFL Draft, and I couldn't be more delighted. I have nothing to compare this pride to, but I'm just as thankful as I thought I would be. Part of me says that it's always like this when a team wins the Super Bowl; the other part of me knows that can't be true. I feel the same way as everyone else, yet it's still difficult to describe those feelings.

This site was originally intended as an outlet for explaining unique thoughts on subjects that are often glossed over. To that end, a Saints Super Bowl win for which I have nothing original to say seems like a logical stopping point. All "hell has frozen over" jokes aside, this feels like a bookend. For a while now, This Ain't No Bank Robbery hasn't challenged me as a writer or culture critic. I've been frustrated by the Blogger layout, and I've watched as the Deleted Scenes link dump has gotten more traffic than the original site. From the beginning, the problem with This Ain't No Bank Robbery--but also the reason why people like it--is that it's unfocused. One post might be about sports, the next might be about music, and so on. The Saints' epic win has proven to me that, as important as sports are to me, they aren't something that fulfills me as a writer. I need to go in a different direction. While the site and its hefty archive will remain open, this is my last post for TANBR.

I plan to combine my work here and at Deleted Scenes into one tumblr site that will be completely entertainment-based--still offering longer essay pieces but constantly updating. Once it's ready to go, I'll link to it here. Until then, consider me on hiatus. It's been a rewarding, educational three-and-a-half-years. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty and support.