While on my annual trip New Orleans for Christmas, I did the usual; visit with family and eat my favorite dishes that the city has to offer. However, on this specific trip, our beloved New Orleans Saints happened to be playing the rivaled: Atlanta Falcons or “Dirty Birds.”
On December 26, we joined the famous pre-gaming festivities at Champions Square, not knowing if we would find tickets. The smell of gumbo and jambalaya was drowned out by the torrential downpour we experienced. We noticed a certain buzz between the die-hard fans; Drew Brees was a mere 305 yards from breaking Hall of Famer, Dan Marino’s 27- year passing record.
Huddled together under a black and gold tent, my mom and I heard of two available tickets. Family friend and singer, Abdul D. Tentmakur, directed us to the man who possessed the two tickets. Giddy with excitement, we scurried to where the local sports radio station would broadcast Tentmakur’s latest song live.
Walking up the many levels of the Superdome to my seat in the “Terrace,” or nosebleed section, I was ecstatic to witness my first live NFL football game. We reached our seats after quite a trek and noticed a few different groups who were near us. A nine year-old boy who had gotten tickets to the game for Christmas was seated directly in front of us. A group of drunken Atlanta fans, already trash talking, sat next to the boy. Lastly, next to my mom sat a middle-aged sister, with a brother who enjoyed instigating banter.
Unfortunately for us, Atlanta started strong in the first quarter, giving the Falcon fans in front of us lots to say. The brother with a loud mouth couldn’t resist to defend his Saints, nearly starting a fight with a Falcon’s fan. The Falcons were up by one field goal, which only encouraged their fans in front of us.
By scoring two glorious touchdowns in the second quarter, the nearby Dirty Bird fans fell silent. With a 21-10 lead, there was still enough time for an Atlanta comeback.
Coming out strong after a Christmas-themed halftime show, the Saints continued their momentum. Atlanta only scored one field goal while our home team snagged another touchdown and a field goal.
Up 31-13 by the beginning of the fourth quarter, we knew the Saints had won; even the obnoxious Atlanta fans had given up and left. All focus was now on a personal victory for Drew Brees. Each and every New Orleans fan in the Dome wanted it for him, especially the nine-year old boy.
Drew Brees, a humble man, constantly focuses on the team, rather than himself. He was close to breaking the record but proceeded to run the ball. We watched as the little boy pulled at his hair with stress and angst. All Saints fans stood anxiously and cheered “Drewww,” at third down. Then, Drew Brees threw a 9 yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles, breaking the record.
The Dome went insane; I had never felt so much energy in one place. The boy in front of us was relieved of his anticipation and cheered on Drew Brees. His Christmas wish had come true.
As we made our way down the many levels of the Superdome, we ran into our friend Abdul D. Tentmakur. He stood alone in the corner of a winding hallway. He explained to us that for years he’d seen the disappointed faces of Saints fans, but he now witnessed the thrill of victory. He wanted to bask in joy the Saints brought to the city of New Orleans.
Screams of “Who Dat!” filled the streets as we exited the Dome. Walking through the city, an obvious joy radiated from the shining faces of fans. Seeing our team beat the Falcons was quite a treat. I witnessed history that night which I will never forget.