NFL opener a lesson in excess

Taylor Swift performs during a special pre-game show honoring the Super Bowl champion New Orleans...

Taylor Swift performs during a special pre-game show honoring the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. (REUTERS/Cheryl Gerber)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- They had their mock Mardi Gras parade, the band played on at the Dave Matthews/Taylor Swift concert in Jackson Square and inside the raucous Superdome, the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl banner was unfurled.

Everybody was in a frenzy and having a good time.

Before a pass was thrown, or a ball was kicked the National Football League and NBC TV joined hands and made certain they had created another monument to excess.

The NFL's season-opener, a repeat of the NFC championship game featuring the Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, almost seemed like an afterthought given the excessive pre-game hype and phoney-baloney spectacle to do what -- create a party atmosphere in New Orleans.

New Orleans is a party unto itself and it certainly doesn't need a load of showbiz hype to rev up the endless parade of revellers who haunt the French Quarter and Bourbon St.

As Sigmund Freud once said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", but don't try selling that to TV types, the league bigwigs and NFL properties who believe that every event is akin to the opening of the Olympics.

In the good-old USA, overdoing things to the max has become the norm instead of the exception, and about the only thing missing from the pre-game show was a fly by of fighter jets inside the Superdome.

The pre-game celebrations inside the Superdome were surprisingly low-key. A marching band played When The Saints Come Marching In as the team sprinted to the field through an inflatable canopy. On the field was also one of the floats from the parade which featured a giant replica of the Lombardi Trophy and a host of cheerleaders.

When the banner was unfurled it was accompanied by fireworks and confetti streamers.

The biggest cheers came when Saints quarterback Drew Brees then gave the signal to Who Dat Nation to start their chant and it was given with gusto and loud cheers. It was an idea dreamed up by Brees just a few days ago and will be a pre-game stable at all future home games.

A rematch of the Saints-Vikings game needed no hype at all, of course, and the fact that it came in the opening game of the NFL season gave it added cache.

But if the game -- make that an "event" -- isn't drowned in an excess of bells and whistles then it's of no account south of the border. So the parade went on with the accompanying bead tossing and buxom babes jiggling their jugs.

And in Jackson Square, Taylor Swift even tried to hit a note or two.

It's more than a bit presumptuous and even insulting to have rank outsiders come to New Orleans -- party central -- to try and teach them a thing or two about having a good time. Good god, this isn't Cincinnati.

I like to have a good time as much as anybody but I don't understand why a game that sells itself has to be treated as a once-in-a-lifetime-can't-miss event.

Speaking of God, don't think that he didn't make an appearance.

In the local paper, the Times-Picayune, the Living section to be exact, on its third page was a two column full length prayer for the boys in blue and black penned by the Rev. Tony Ricard who is pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church and Catholic chaplain of the Saints.

It starts off:

"God of love and mercy,

"On Feb. 7, 2010, the New Orleans Saints and the great Who Dat Nation ventured into the world or our dream. On that day, the Who Dat Nation finally saw our dreams fulfilled.

"On the day, we became the undisputed champions of the National Football League.

"For this, Lord, we say, thank you!

...

And I say, Good Grief!

Seeing as how there is no such thing as going over the top, I'm surprised that the NFL and NBC didn't invite nutter of the week Pastor Terry Jones (perhaps a long, lost relative of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones?) of the Dove World Outreach Centre to make the trek from Gainesville, Fla., and have a Quran burning ceremony as the halftime show complete with a Keystone Kops like fire department there to douse the flames.

It wouldn't have been out of place.

They game? Oh yeah, forgot about the game.

Maybe that was the point.


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