Before we get into this -- a discussion concerning professional sports and the great, brutally devastated city of New Orleans -- let's agree on an obvious and necessary disclaimer:
This doesn't matter. Not really, not right now. Whether or not the New Orleans Saints play in New Orleans in 2005 (they won't), stay in New Orleans for the long haul (tough to say, even before this week) or suffer some sort of short-term competitive disadvantage (how can they not?) is irrelevant when bodies are floating in contaminated flood waters and tens of thousands of refugees are without basic necessities.
As we all come to terms with what seems to be shaping up as the worst natural disaster on U.S. soil in nearly a century -- perhaps ever -- it's heartening to see heroes like the Saints' Joe Horn responding so valiantly in the face of tragedy. The Falcons' Warrick Dunn has called for each NFL player not on the Saints to donate $5,000 toward relief efforts, and the league was quick to donate $1 million.
Ultimately, if the NFL wants to do right by New Orleans, there's a logical and significant way the league can come to the city's aid. It can throw a giant, week-long party there -- every single winter.
Yes, I'm talking about the Super Bowl. For reasons both altruistic and selfish, the NFL should move the Ultimate Game to America's ultimate party town and keep it there.
There's nothing festive about New Orleans right now, of course, nor will there be for many months. Yet as inconceivable as it might seem at this darkest of hours, the Big Easy will get its inimitable groove back, eventually.
True, New Orleans may never be the same as it was before Hurricane Katrina hit, and recovering from a tragedy of these proportions will be exceptionally difficult. But as anyone who's spent a decent amount of time with its residents can attest, this is one populace for which the music will never stop.
When the waters recede and the locals are looking for ways to get the tourists to come back, Saint Paul (Tagliabue) and the owners who employ him could come marching in, for all the world to see.
We're not talking about playing future Super Bowls in the Superdome. I know it's not official yet, but that already outdated stadium is history. It has to be. There are holes in the roof, and the Teflon coating is gone. The smell inside supposedly reeks of dead bodies. The Field Turf is certainly destroyed.
Locally and internationally, the Dome will forever stand as a symbol of a city's misery.
Clearly, the best thing for everyone would be to stop using it.