By Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
February 09, 2010, 7:13AM
John Pope and Bruce Nolan wrote this story.
saints-fans-reggie-bush.JPGTed Jackson / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saint Reggie Bush jumps into the stands at Sun life Stadium in Miami after the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl.
Sixteen hours after the New Orleans Saints’ victory in Super Bowl XLIV, the crowd at Domilise’s Po-Boys was still in Who Dat heaven. Everyone who was assembling the Uptown restaurant’s iconic shrimp, oyster and roast-beef sandwiches was wearing a Saints-related T-shirt or cap, as were many of the customers, and everyone was smiling.
Into this jam-packed eatery came Joy Favor, who had made a beeline for Domilise’s after getting off a flight from Miami, where she had seen the game. Wearing a black T-shirt and carrying a golden tote bag on her left shoulder, she said two words when she crossed the threshold: “Who Dat!”
Favor said she had had no sleep, but she was clearly excited about the game and what she had seen and heard Monday morning on the way back home.
“It’s unbelievable,” Favor said. “The pilot got on the microphone and said, ‘Who Dat!’ Even the Colts fans I saw in Miami were saying, ‘You deserve that.’”
saints-fans-confetti.JPGMatthew Hinton / The Times-PicayuneBrynn Comeaux, left, and Jourdin Shockley dance as the confetti falls on Bourbon Street the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts for their first Super Bowl victory Sunday.
What might have seemed surprising was that this outpouring of Saints support was occurring in what is not only a favorite restaurant of the Manning family but also a virtual shrine to its members. Among the photographs behind the bar are pictures of Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback, and his brother, Eli, the New York Giants quarterback, holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy the year their respective teams won the Super Bowl.
Despite that strong bond, Patti Domilise, the restaurant’s manager, made her allegiance clear. Wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “Hey Shockey Way,” in honor of Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, Domilise said there was no question about whom she and her colleagues would root for Sunday.
“When it was their turn, we were pulling for them,” she said. “It was our turn this time.”
If Sunday was a day of game-related tension, Monday was a time for afterglow.
saints-fans-kiss.JPGJohn McCusker / The Times-PicayuneSaints fans Tarak Anado and Jamie Walter share a kiss in celebration of the New Orleans Saints’ 31-17 win in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Fla.
It was not business as usual. Traffic in and around the city was lighter than normal; many schools were closed. Businesses seemed to run at a little less than full speed; restaurants were not so crowded.
All over town, people seemed to have no intention of making Monday a regular day. It was not. Monday was a day full of camaraderie and good cheer, a day in which the electronic sign above the northbound entrance to the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bore a new name, Breesway, in honor of Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Nobody was a stranger.
New Orleans was undergoing what Jim Murray called “a perfect storm” of good fortune: a New Orleans mayor’s race that, in Mitch Landrieu, produced an astonishing 66 percent consensus on the city’s next leader; a Super Bowl championship; and Mardi Gras, which, one wag suggested, could be renamed “Dat Tuesday.”
“Yeah, it’s a perfect storm. I told somebody, not since 9/11 have I felt anything like this,” said Murray, a process operator at the Dow Chemical plant in Norco. “All the divisions feel like they’re gone. It’s like for once we’re all on the same page, right?”
Lisa Smyth, an Uptowner, said the weekend’s events marked nothing less than “a sea change for the city. It’s huge.”
“Oh, this is way bigger than the Super Bowl, trust me,” said Eddie Sandifer, the community-outreach coordinator for Positive Living Treatment Center, a private mental health clinic near the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway. “It’s the best day since — when? Since whenever, that’s when. This blurs all the lines: racial, income, social status, everything.
“We’re just in a holding pattern today, and it’s going to stay that way for a while, at least until the parade tomorrow.”
saints-fans-tear.JPGjohn McCusker / The Times-PicayuneKaren Licciardi of River Ridge wipes away a tear as she basks in the New Orleans Saints victory in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
During the warm and relaxed lunch hour, Sandifer and Darlene Jenkins, a counselor, supervised a group of a half-dozen or so clients passing a football back and forth on the broad Jeff Davis neutral ground. They are people living with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other problems.
But perhaps they had caught the vibe, too. “The Saints are good for everybody,” Sandifer said. “They asked whether they could bring the football out here today.”
In addition to making people happy, the Saints’ 31-17 victory inspires people, said Dr. Adrianne Brennan, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Throughout the buildup to the Super Bowl, people kept talking about “believe, believe, believe,” she said. “This is what keeps people rebuilding their houses; the belief that the city will come back. The Saints are a symbol of this.”
Brennan, who described herself as “giddy and ecstatic and hopeful and in awe, watching dreams come true,” said the good feeling may well last through Mardi Gras.
“New Orleanians have this new identity now,” she said. “We’re not the underdogs. We’re on top.”
Staff writers Benjamin Alexander-Bloch and Chris Kirkham contributed to this article.
John Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3317. Bruce Nolan can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3344.