The week’s biggest game ever
Aspen, CO ColoradoHeard the news? Tomorrow’s NFC Championship featuring the Saints and Bears is the biggest football game of the season. Actually, it might just be the single most important event of all time for any sport at any point in history.Disagree? Not sure? Simply ask my husband, Rick, a pseudo-Cajun (born in Minnesota, raised in Louisiana). According to him, nearly every game – especially one involving a team from the bayou or one whose performance and record will ultimately have some bearing on teams in or near the Crescent City – is just about the most crucial one ever. For that day, anyway.On the other hand, he also seems to genuinely feel that way about pretty much any game, in any sport, that happens to be underway in any city – just so long as he’s awake and available to watch it. (He’s got a similar attitude about most movies he sees, hence his assertion that “Rocky Balboa” is the best film in the slugfest series.)Following last Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game in which the Saints defeated the Eagles, the next Biggest Game Ever immediately became the Bears vs. the Seahawks, because had Seattle prevailed, the Saints would have had the home-field advantage for tomorrow’s NFC face-off.Alas, all eyes (or at least both of Rick’s) are now on the Weather Channel, where he is monitoring by the minute Chicago’s dew point, wind chill, barometric pressure and wind speed, hoping and praying the temperature doesn’t take a turn for the arctic in time for kickoff. Lord knows if the climate at Soldier Field resembles anything like the frigid temperatures in Aspen this week, the heat- and humidity-accustomed Saints might be too numb to eke out the victory they need to get them to the next Biggest Game Ever – the Really, Really Biggest Game Ever – next month’s Super Bowl, which would be the first one in franchise history.But regardless of a Saints victory tomorrow, there’ll always be another Biggest Game Ever. I hear it from him all too often: “No sporting experience is as special as baseball’s opening day” and “October is the greatest month in all of sports” and “If Tiger makes this putt he’ll topple [yet another] world record” and “LSU has never had such a good basketball team” and “I like the Rockies now that I live here” and “Since the Nuggets are finally shaping up, their games are actually watchable” and “I just want to watch the Broncos lose” and “There’s a reason they call it ‘March Madness!'”Louisiana State University vs. Notre Dame in the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl was a recent Biggest Game Ever. Prior to that, USC vs. UCLA was a Biggest Game Ever, because had USC had beaten UCLA as expected, then LSU would have been awarded a slot in the prestigious Rose Bowl.Still, Rick claims that his current passion for the Saints, who won only three games last season (I can’t say this for certain, but I think one of those victories might have been because the other team failed to show up), has less to do with an actual victory for the team and more to do with the New Orleans.”It’s not like I want them to win for me, honey,” Rick said, his eyes shining with as much earnestness as could fit alongside his tears. “Just think about this poor city that lost everything. Don’t they deserve a little happiness? It’s about giving a glimmer of hope to a place that needs it to prevent a total collapse. Just a little hope and a brief spotlight so the outside world is acutely aware of their ongoing struggles.”If tomorrow’s Saints game doesn’t call enough attention to the still-Katrina-ravaged city, there seems to be a contingency plan already in place. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly bought a kazillion-dollar mansion in the French Quarter – their fourth abode worldwide – in a reported effort to draw media attention to the city’s continuing plight. Still unclear, however, is if the media there can take time away from covering the city’s murders – 12 in fewer than 20 days this year – to photograph the ever-expanding Jolie-Pitt clan at local garbage-strewn playgrounds and the three open restaurants whose sanitary conditions are only slightly better than those in most Third World countries.Hopefully, though, New Orleans won’t need to rely on a pair of globetrotting, overexposed celebrities and an astronomical crime rate to get the attention it so desperately needs. Wouldn’t it be nice if tomorrow’s contest in Chicago were truly the Biggest Game Ever for the sake of New Orleans?Geaux Saints.E-mail questions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org.