At times, the tension of the Saints 2009 'super' season was difficult to watch. Years of faith, hope and expectation culminated in an amazing dash for the Lombardi trophy. In our very own New Orleans Superdome, the sight of unprecedented destruction and disaster only 4 years before, the city watched as Sean Payton, Greg Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Tracy Porter and countless others did the impossible. We went to the Superbowl. We won the Superbowl. It all seemed too good to be true.
And it was.
In the last 24 hours, the NFL has revealed that their investigation of the New Orleans Saints has uncovered a history of corruption and cover-up on a Watergate/Spygate scale. While welcoming such football legends as Kurt Warner and Brett Farve into our stadium, coaches and players placed illegal bounties on their heads. The hard hits in those games, hits that virtually sidelined our most talented opponents, were fueled by more than just spirit: they were fueled by a cash flow. Greg Williams encouraged it. Sean Payton and Tom Benson knew about it, and did little to stop it. The crime was bad. The cover up was worse.
As difficult as it was to watch the Saints finally make it to victory, it is now even more difficult to watch this scandal unfold. Difficult in an entirely different way. Difficult in a way that makes it appropriate to discuss this in a spiritual way. The Saints, true to their namesakes, have become spiritual inspiration in this city. Payton, Benson and their comrades were made quasi-religious icons in this culturally Catholic city. We've attended Mass with them, seen them lead prayer breakfasts. We've waited in line for them to sign their books, but we've also watched them receive blessings from local ministers,
That's what we know thus far. So now, we pray. We fast. We repent. No, this isn't just Catholic guilt extrapolated into the sphere of sports. Payton and Benson received the same ashes on their foreheads that we did last Wednesday. And those ashes are not an empty symbol. Nor are they just an emotional expression. They are the remains of last years palm branches. They are what is left over after the biggest parade in the church's liturgy, when Christ rode into