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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Readers Blog: View From The Suites

Flooded with emotions

The beads are brighter, the banners hanging all over the city seem vibrant, and the people’s laughter music to the ears. It’s hard to believe there is another city in America that represents the heartbeat of a nation struggling to survive, more than New Orleans.

With the Haiti disaster fresh in people’s minds, it is easy to forget that New Orleans was flooded with water and utter chaos just 4 ½ years ago. The Louisiana Superdome, once the temporary home for the residents of New Orleans that didn’t evacuate the area, hosts the NFC Championship game.

The street’s heartbeat beats along with the music from the town, the food providing delicious outlets for joy and laughter, and the drinks provide relief from a soul thirsty for a stress-free atmosphere.

In New Orleans, Louisiana sports stopped being about fun and games. The Saints became a rallying cry for a city they once knew existed. When it seemed that the city would be washed away for good, the Saints provided a firm foundation for people to live on.

In a world of athletes storing guns in lockers, athletes getting caught up in drug scandals, womanizing, and coaches abusing their players, there is the New Orleans Saints. An organization where players and coaches are extending their hands, hearts and money to the residents in which they play for.

It’s tough not to root for the New Orleans Saints.

Corey Epps has called New Orleans his home his entire life. A business major at Tulane University, he was a year short of graduating when Hurricane Katrina struck. Heeding the warnings of officials, he left the only hometown he knew for safety in Tennessee to stay with family. He returned 3 months later to find his daily routine washed away.

“My apartment was destroyed, the convenience store I stopped every morning for my coffee was empty, and I lost my girlfriend when she decided to stay in Dallas.”

Corey went to work to clean up his city almost instantly. A self-proclaimed “idiot” when it came to carpentry and construction, Corey worked 13 hour days doing anything that he could do to clean up the city and allow people to get back to their lives.

Today, Corey is still doing construction and carpentry. He swears when things slow down, he will go back and finish his degree in something other than business. His life was not only affected, it changed his outlook on things, including becoming a Saints fan.

Corey says he could take or leave football before Katrina hit. “I don’t know how to explain it; in the process of cleaning up I became a diehard Saints fan.”

The Superdome that once housed despair, frustration, fear, and shattered souls, played host to a different crowd when it hosted its first NFC Championship game. Black and gold clothed, bead wearing, face painted, drink holding, full of super dreams and goals.

The Saints running out of the tunnel represented a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Half a world away in Haiti, people that probably never watched a football game and oblivious as to what a football game can do to a nation will continue to try to put their lives back together. While in New Orleans, tears will be shed and voices will become horse.

The Saints put the “S” in success. When people thought that things aint going get better, leave it to a team to put a “S” in front of those aints.

 Jay Maguire is a journalist and sports talk host. You can hear Jay Maguire every Monday and Friday on inthefaceradio.com 11am-1pm (CST).

 

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