By Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 9, 2010; D02
Blog excerpt from washingtonpost.com/wilbon
After covering the Super Bowl for 19 straight years for The Washington Post, this is the fourth consecutive game I've watched in my hotel room after doing the Sunday pro basketball show on ABC.
It still feels strange watching on television, hearing the play-by-play and commentary, seeing the shockingly overrated commercials, seeing halftime acts when I'm not writing a column on deadline. After doing the ABC pregame show for the Orlando at Boston game (do the Celtics look on the verge of trouble or what?) I drove (okay, was driven) 95 minutes from ESPN's Bristol, Conn., studios back to New York to watch the game and order Chinese food from the best Chinese restaurant in the city, Shun Lee West. Anyway, I don't miss not being at the game. I've seen enough of them in person. I miss the access after the game, but I can still have observations from afar . . . I've never been as happy for a team that's not one of my own winning a championship.
But I've been to New Orleans maybe 20 times in my life for Saints games. The team went from dreadful to pretty darned good in the late 1980s when I was The Post's pro football writer. It took me no more than two, three games there to realize what the Saints mean to New Orleans, even back when people were wearing bags over their heads. They adored the Saints and felt about the Saints in a way I've never seen people feel about their team outside of Green Bay.
The folks who wanted the Saints to leave after Katrina and play someplace other than the severely damaged Louisiana Superdome didn't understand how desperately people along the Gulf Coast needed the team, the players, the big event that Sunday afternoons were.
Except when the Saints played the Bears in the 2006 NFC championship game, I've consistently rooted for most, if not all, things Louisiana since Katrina. People whose homes were devastated and loved ones killed in the storm have told me the Saints were their salvation. They were completely serious.
So those of us who've observed the relationship over time weren't really surprised when the "Who dats" were seen getting off flights at Miami International Airport on Saturday morning. They had no tickets and in some cases just enough money to check into a hotel to be around the revelry. In case you didn't know, the hotels in New Orleans were sold out. All the rooms or close to it, in the big hotels anyway. The parties from Miami to New Orleans will be something to behold and no fans of any sport, not the Red Sox pre-2004 or Cubs fans, are more deserving of feeling like champions. . . .
I love that Sean Payton went for it on fourth and goal from just outside the 1-yard line. I didn't like the running play; why not have your best player, Drew Brees, throw the ball? But I did like the guts it took to pass up the field goal attempt and go for it. It's that sense of daring I wish the Colts had exhibited back in December when they gave up the undefeated season against the Jets.