Under the Dome

Don’t worry, I’m not about to critique the Stephen King series that’s currently running on one of the alphabet channels.  Even though I am a huge science fiction fan I’m no fan of King.  After “It” I gave up on him.  That was just too farfetched and disappointing for me.  Give me real sci fi like Deep Space Nine, The X-Files or Stargate SG-1.

I’m talking about my experience at the Saints game.  I’ve been before but this was the most thrilling game I’ve ever seen live.  I mean a real nail biter.  It made me as nervous as the drive down there did.  Oh yes, the drive.  Let me start there.
I can handle the New Orleans traffic.  It’s just the roads I cannot handle.  Why would you build a city below sea level?  I am claustrophobic, acrophobic and aquaphobic so driving on roads that are built high above the streets and waters with concrete walls on each side just shuts me down.  And for some reason I always manage to miss a turn and end up on one of these horrifying roads.  I have to slow down to a crawl and focus directly ahead while I’m white knuckling and on the verge of hyperventilating.  Yesterday the road had a really nice giant curve and slant which made it even worse.  And where did we come out at the end of that road?  Not the best part of town by the looks of it.  Thankfully it was Sunday morning and it seemed rather quiet and peaceful.  The little gps lady finally got us back on track and we made it to the parking garage we were looking for.

For those that have never been, the Superdome is stuck in the middle of town.  It’s not like any other athletic facility I’ve ever been to.  Most places have plenty of room and a nice large parking area to accommodate everyone.  Not here.  Just city streets and private parking garages.  Parking isn’t cheap and the closer you get to the Dome the more expensive it is.  We have found a garage we like to park in that is fairly reasonable ($20) plus it is easy access out of there.  Or it should be anyway.  Somehow we find a way to make it hard.  But this garage is one mile from the Dome.  Yes, quite a hike especially in 95 degree temps on asphalt and concrete.  There are tailgaters early along the way that have managed to squeeze into open parking lots and set up shop.  That Cajun food always smells good!!!
But once you make that trek and arrive at the Dome, what a view! 

Champions Square was rocking as usual.  We get to the gate and get scanned and then enter the building.  Air conditioner!!!  I prefer open stadiums but during late summer in the south it is good to be inside.  We made our way up to the box on the third level.  Since I’m lucky enough to be in the company box (which includes the tickets by the way) we get to eat some of that good Cajun food.  It’s always a variety, like jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp and grits, chicken wings, meat pies, sandwiches, bread pudding, and I could go on. 

We watch the receivers warm up.  Lance Moore is doing his thing!  I’m still trying to figure out who the guy with the two colored Mohawk is.  Jimmy Graham is over to the side throwing a ball with a little bitty guy and having some pictures made.  Just a lucky fan I assume.  Scott Fujita is signing some autographs.  Deuce McAllister is sitting in the box next to us.
Then the big guy walks in.  No, not Drew Brees but Willie Robertson!  And Martin.  For those that may not know Willie is owner of the Duck Dynasty kingdom.  I still have no idea why they were there but they took plenty of photos including some with the Saintsations and then spent the first half on the sidelines.

And I’m kidding about Willie being bigger than Drew.  Of course Drew is the star in THIS house.  We watch him lead the team in the pregame chant.  Awesome as always.   
The LSU band performs and there are some pregame announcements and rituals and then came the most touching moment in a ballgame I’ve ever seen.  On the giant screen they run a film on ALS research.  Not only were there Saints players taking part but many different players and coaches from the NFL.  And Steve Gleason spoke last.  Oh my.  Chillbumps and tears.  Then Coach Peyton and Steve come out onto the field together.  I never dreamed I’d be crying at an NFL game but I couldn’t hold the tears back.  What an emotional moment.  If anyone doesn’t know the significance in this just google Steve Gleason and find out.   

Game time!  The announcer says to welcome the Atlanta Falcons into the stadium.  Everyone boos.  Nice welcome I’m thinking.  Let’s show some southern hospitality even if this is our biggest rival.   

Yes, the dome truly is the loudest stadium in the world.  It was deafening but didn’t seem to faze the Falcons that much.  They were putting points on the board.  On the other hand the Saints had some trouble getting started.  The defense couldn’t cover their receivers.  I wasn’t getting upset yet because Drew has brought us back on top so many times before and there was plenty of time.  But this time it would be the defense that would save the day.  Down by 6 the Falcons had a chance to make the winning touchdown and leave us with just a few seconds to retaliate.  But on fourth and goal the defense held up and got an interception!  Of course we ran the last few seconds of the clock out on a knee.  Whew.  What a thriller!

So we head out, squeezed in by the crowds that are hollering “Who Dat” all the way. We pass the Gleason statue and then somehow in the massive crowd we missed our off ramp and walked down into Champions Square instead so we have to walk back into the opposite flow of the masses.  I found a guy with a baby in a stroller headed our way too.  I got behind him and magically a baby makes people stop and let you pass.  I told him thanks for the help.
We made the one mile trek back to the parking garage and managed to get on the right ramp out of there.  Homeward bound.
I must say the excitement and thrill of watching a ball game live in the Superdome is unmatched but it’s much easier watching it on television.  All in all though, I think it’s going to be a great season.

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