The cynics have spoken: The New Orleans Saints’ unbelievable season and Super Bowl championship will not — they repeat will not — help the city recover from Hurricane Katrina. To that we say, “Who Dat!” Tuning into the live coverage of the team’s victory parade last week on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ESPN News, the NFL Network — virtually every news outlet carried a good part of it live and CNN even stayed with it over the transition from Wolf Blitzer to Campbell Brown (it helps that she’s a Louisiana girl; her dad is former Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown, fyi) — begged the question, “How can the story of the Saints and the rallying around them by the city not at least affect outsiders’ perception of New Orleans?” The party’s back on in the Big Easy, and we’re confident that will draw back the tourists and the conventions, which accounted for a huge chunk of Crescent City commerce. Much remains to be done, but we’ll whistle while we work.


This one we have to bestow on the fans of the vanquished Indianapolis Colts — not the 11 who showed up at Indy International Airport last week to welcome the team back from an unquestionably disappointing trip to Miami, but the thousands of Colts fans who didn’t bother; the thousands of Colts fans who, after the club enjoyed the most prolific decade in NFL history during which it won a Super Bowl and set the record for consecutive wins in the regular season, decided to blow it off, to let their tragic hero, Peyton Manning, and his teammates, hobbled and humbled, deplane on the chilly tarmac. Granted, it was 27 degrees and snowy, but these are Hoosiers. They like it cold, and that welcome home was definitely cold. Face it and embrace it: Even if the Saints had lost the Super Bowl, there would have been 10,000 Who Dats lining the road from Louis Armstrong International to welcome the Black & Gold home.


We’re pretty sure Gov. Bobby Jindal didn’t attend a single Saints game until the NFC Championship, but the bandwagoner-in-chief used the occasion of the Super Bowl to hold forth the tin cup, raking in lots of dough during a “Black & Gold Brunch & Tailgate” at the swanky Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., just hours before the Saints took the field — $1,000 per hand shake, $4,000 for a photo op, according to our source. This is Jindal’s MO, so little surprise there. What’s troubling is that GOP uber-fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke was the maven of this money mania. O’Rourke once worked for the political “consulting” company Triad, which a U.S. Senate investigation in 1998 determined was a “corporate shell funded by a few wealthy conservative Republican activists” and which engaged in “a variety of improper and possibly illegal tactics to help Republican candidates win election in 1996.” Anything for a buck.


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