Hurricane Katrina has changed not only the landscape of much of the Deep South and the Gulf Coast, it has changed the NFL landscape. While rescue efforts start to make way for the inevitable and gruesome task of recovering dead bodies, and relief efforts continue for a vast number of evacuees spread all over the country, separated from homes and loved ones, and the stark reality of the vastness of the cleanup and rebuilding ahead comes into better focus, our attention quite rightly goes to the afflicted. Around the country, contributions have been tremendous. Reports of vigils and prayer services abound, and the news is punctuated with uplifting stories of people helping out and volunteering, and surviving.
It does lend a little perspective on our little hobby that is the National Football League. Dropping a $20 bill into a tin can at the game seems somehow inadequate.
Meanwhile, in the football world, the New Orleans Saints can be listed among the homeless. The Superdome is unusable, and may be for months, perhaps permanently. Even if it were restored as a workable venue for a game, the fan base has been dispersed and its city will be largely uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. The Saints will likely play 16 road games this season. Will they find a venue somewhere in the South that could host its ‘home’ games? Lord only knows.
Meanwhile, their schedule is on a week-by-week basis.
And will they feel like playing anyway? Many of the coaches and players have lost their homes and property along with the other residents of that fine old city. Many have probably lost friends and even relatives. Can they maintain focus and concentration on something as trivial as a game? It strains credulity to think that the team will even be viable this season.
The cold, hard reality is that the Saints have very little hope of winning a lot of games this year. In effect, Hurricane Katrina wiped out an NFL franchise along with the city it resided in.
How all of this will affect the rest of the league remains to be seen. Certainly, if all of the Saints’ scheduled home games get turned into road games in the scheduled teams’ stadiums, the balance could be shifted somewhat towards those teams on the Saints schedule that will get one extra home game. This will affect other divisions than just the NFC South. Is there a fair way to handle this? Probably not.
In the grand scheme of things, maybe it doesn’t really matter.
Meanwhile, we all do what we can and give what we can, to help the victims of nature’s wrath, and try to remember to look at things with a little bit more perspective.
Football is, after all, just a game.Steve Utz writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Send your feedback to Steve at email@example.com.