NEW ORLEANS -- It's geaux time.
That's the headline that runs across the top of this morning's New Orleans Times-Picayune, above the masthead for the paper. The placement is just.
It's by no means hyperbole to say tonight's game is the biggest thing going in this town.
Almost everyone here is wearing either a Patriots or Saints jersey. Saints fans walking through the French Quarter call to each other with a simple, "Who Dat?" The jazz musicians playing outside the Cafe du Monde played a version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" with the intro, "Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints?!” (On the setlist it would look something like this: Who dat > Saints).
Made a stop at the world famous cafe a short time ago for some traditional beignets and coffee (above). Beignets are the great equalizer -- Saints and Patriots fans, sitting side by side, covered in powdered sugar, stuffing their faces. With the way this town is partying in preparation for tonight's game, Cafe du Monde better have plenty of them ready for late Tuesday morning.
The Saints really have captured the imagination of the city, from the local newspapers and television broadcasts to every bellhop and bartender wanting to talk Saints with you. Five of the 10 pages in the Times' sports section are Saints-related. The Hornets, on the other hand, are relegated to page 9. And they played last night.
Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan sums it up nicely. In his A1 story he writes, "The rest of the NFL is playing football. The Saints are waging some kind of gridiron crusade. They're playing not just for themselves, but for a city, region, and fan base desperate for spiritual renewal."
After spending just under 24 hours here, I'd have to agree.