New Orleans native Green: ‘This is real life'

In the wake of the most devastating natural disaster the state has ever faced, members of the LSU football team have put football on the back burner.

With the Pete Maravich Assembly Center being used as a triage clinic and the Carl Maddox Field House housing New Orleans refugees, the game against North Texas, scheduled for September 3, was postponed for a later date. This free time has allowed members of the football team to give back to the community ravished by the storm.

The team has done everything in its power, from visiting the relief shelters, filling its 15 foot trailer with clothes and food.

"We've got to do what we can to support them and uplift them, and just help them figure out that all their family's safe," offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said.

Whitworth said the main focus of their efforts is just to offer support to anyone who has been affected by the hurricane.

"It gives us the chance to give back. As much support as we've received in the years, it's one of those chances that we can't pass up to give the support back," Whitworth said.

Some of those who need the support are actual members of the football team. Whitworth estimated 30 of his teammates are from the area hit by Katrina, and for those guys, the images of their city haunts them.

"It's tragic," River Ridge native Chris Jackson said. "You see pictures on the news and its just mind blowing, the severity of the storm."

Jackson said most of his family evacuated before the storm and are staying in his apartment.

"I just hope that we can pull together as a city," Jackson said. "Everybody's trying to pitch in and do as much as they can, and I think that's the key to get back to where we were before."

One major way the team is pitching in is through filling the team's trailer with clothes and food for the people in the relief shelters.

"Today we actually filled up a trailer to send goods, shirts, pants, tennis shoes, blankets, pillows, anything that you can get out of your house that you weren't using, we‘re sending it to the people in the PMAC and the field house," New Orleans native Skyler Green said.

Although Green said he is uncertain about the condition of his own house, he is just happy that his family, who evacuated Sunday night, is safe.

"You can rebuild a house, but you can't start a new life," Green said.

All three players agree that it's difficult to see the pictures of the city and accept what has happened.

"You can look at it as a dream, but it's not a dream," Green said. "It's real life."

But despite all these surreal images, Green believes with some a lot of help, the state will recover.

"People around here are going to help as much as they can," Green said. "Everybody's got to do their part to pitch in and help Louisiana rebuild."

But the players are not the only ones contributing to the cause. Football coaches and staff have been busy at work tending to the needs of the refugees.

Head Coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher have made appearances at the field house and the assembly center.

The equipment staff has been busy washing clothes and linens for the people in the shelters.

LSU equipment manager Greg Stringfellow estimated that he and his staff washed 4,000 pounds on Tuesday and another 10,000 on Wednesday.

Although they are keeping busy with their relief efforts, the Tigers know that they also have another job, and that is playing football.

The players felt it was a smart decision by the administration to postpone the game because of the hurricane.

Green said had the game been played, it would have difficult to stay focused on football. He estimates during practice half of his attention is on the game, and half of it is still on the tragic events.

But despite not having this week's game to prepare them for next weekend's showdown with Arizona State, the Tigers feel confident they will be able to play with full intensity.

Whitworth cited the Oregon State game last year and Virginia Tech game three years ago as examples where the Tigers opened their season against ranked opponents. Although the team did not meet expectations in those games, he said they will be ready this year.

Jackson believes the Arizona State game will be a blessing to the state and its struggling citizens.

We'll come to the Arizona State game and see if we can try to pull at least part of the state together and uplift the spirits a little bit," Jackson said.

After all, there is no better way to bring thousands of people together than an evening in Death Valley.

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