I could be the only person that could tell this story, since I lived in both New Orleans and Cleveland. Born and raised in the Crescent City, the Saints’ title will always be my favorite sports moment. Last night may have been number two. Especially after reflecting on the time I lived up in Cleveland.
I’ve spent nearly 30 years in or near the city of New Orleans from 1970-1998. From 1998-2008, I spent a decade in Orlando. For whatever the reason, my wife and I decided to take a job in Cleveland and move up north in the Midwest. We knew no one up there. Luckily for us, we moved during the summer, so the weather was irrelevant.
My Saints gear came along with me wherever I went. I had my gear on constantly during the snowy winters when my eyelids froze shut. I slipped once on the hard ice, and looked up to see the sky. I thought I may have died, but then I saw snow outside. They can’t have snow in heaven right? The move to the Midwest was not exactly perfect. There’s no doubt that I would eventually adopt Cleveland sports. I bought some Indians gear and bought into the Lebron James magic at the time.
I still followed the Saints and wore my gear every Sunday as the 2009 season came. The Saints just kept winning, and winning, and winning. The winters all of a sudden didn’t feel that cold. The sun came out more in my mind, and I met one of my best friends in Cleveland. We joined a church called Church of the Saviour, where this very passionate pastor Dan Bogre got me hooked. Sure, he was and is a pastor, but his sports love ran deep. Reverend Bogre put sports stories into his sermons. The fact is that he let me in on the real “Cleveland”. There were too many stories that made me love him more because of the heartache that Cleveland fans have felt. I’m thinking of him now.
Anyway, back to 2009 when the Saints kept winning and then this happened.
The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl, and the feelings I felt were off the charts. I cried, laughed, and fell to my knees. The electric jolt of joy that came through me still runs deep through my veins today. We did it! We really did it! All those years of losing. The 1-15 years of the media calling us “Aints”. The thoughts of maybe next year. The envy of all those other cities and teams that had won a title or multiple championships.
New Orleans will be in the history books forever.
So last night when I watched the Cavs win their first title – most people in Cleveland weren’t alive 54 years ago when the city won one – I thought of my friend. I thought of the Cleveland faithful and how they felt when the media would bring up all the negative highlights. There was a sense of pure joy for me as well being a Cavs fan. Even more though, I felt like that I can relate to the fan base there.
New Orleans and Cleveland are both small market teams. The people of New Orleans, like Cleveland, will never forget the first one. Just like you’ll never forget your first date, your first beer, your first lover, or your first car. The first one will always be the best one.
Congratulations to all the fans of Cleveland, because we know in New Orleans how it feels to be the brunt of countless jokes. Now, we are both sitting back laughing. We are both champions. If you don’t think sports are important, then you are missing out.
It’s not just about a game. This is just one players’ reaction after the Cavs won last night.
Moments like this will linger on forever.