I happened to be in New Orleans in the summer of 2001 for the jazz funeral of Ernie K-Doe, the Big Easy native whose song "Mother in Law" briefly topped the Billboard charts 40 years earlier. I stood in front of a bank on Canal Street, sweating through my shirt in the mid-July heat, sipping a can of Dixie beer offered by a white-haired gentleman in an immaculate seersucker suit.
That afternoon, I learned about the New Orleans "second line." After the horse-drawn hearse, grieving members of K-Doe's family and the band hired to play at the service passed by, the street was jammed with dancing revelers simultaneously celebrating a life and mocking death.
Come Sunday, most everyone outside the suburbs of Indianapolis will make up a massive second line, rooting on the underdog New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. But it's not just because of all the stories we've read about Saints players - most notably quarterback Drew Brees - leading efforts to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
It's because the Saints and their fans share a bond found in few other NFL cities, singing "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?" every time a camera points their way this week. The team's chaplain, Rev. R. Tony Ricard, leads "The Prayer of the Who Dats" at Our Lady Star of the Sea each Sunday. It calls for the intercession of various saints, except one: St. Jude, because "at last our team is no longer considered a hopeless cause!"