With no comment from the NFL’s top official and no opportunity for redress from that infamous “no call” last in the NFC Championship Game, the fans of the New Orleans Saints could have cried in their beers and stayed bitter like petulant children. They pressed for a response, but when none was forthcoming, they decided to make the most of the opportunity and protest in the best way they could: with their feet, with their chants and with their overwhelming love for their team.
Organizing so-called Boycott Bowl activities like “second lines” complete with traditional jazz music and alternative TV replays of Super Bowl XLIV, the population of New Orleans elected to not watch the Super Bowl on their TV sets. The result was a 26.1 Nielsen rating, the lowest ever for a Super Bowl in New Orleans and our apparent brothers in arms in other cities felt a need to respond in kind. Whether in protest over New Orleans being unfairly held back by the officials on the field or just not interested in seeing a game where Tom Brady appeared to have a lock on a sixth Super Bowl ring, TV viewers turned their TV sets off or found alternative entertainment. The result was the lowest Super Bowl ratings nationwide in ten years.
So, while some might accuse us of being spoiled sports, they would be dead wrong. We all knew deep down that a re-do of a game was never going to happen nor that it would be possible to turn the clock back. The Super Bowl is big business for the NFL and a little thing like the integrity of the game doesn’t count for much when it comes to having big city markets involved like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Big cities means big bucks to advertisers and the revenue generated in a game like the New York Giants versus the Dallas Cowboys is much more interesting than a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans.
So the loss was a missed opportunity, not only for the City of New Orleans, but also for the NFL. As it turned out, the big game was a big snoozer, the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever and the sound of TVs being switched off outside of the Big Easy was almost deafening.
There is a bit of poetic justice to it all. The Saints had the best season record and deserved to play in the big game. When it turned out we were going to be denied, we partied, ignored the NFL as best we could and had a great time in showing the rest of the nation the way we deal with life in general. The debacle became our own jazz funeral for what was a truly memorable season of pro football in New Orleans.
Apparently, a higher force must agree with us. The final score of Super Bowl LIII was New England on top of Los Angeles 13-3. That’s the same as our epic season of wins and losses.
So we ask you. Who dat!?