The headline today online from the New Orleans Advocate declares: “Atlanta mayor says ‘it was a joke’ after Saints Super Bowl comment sparks outrage.”
Dissecting that header, two thoughts occur.
First, it was, in fact, a joke and a quite good one when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms answered the question of who she wanted to see in the Super Bowl in her town. “Just anybody other than the Saints,” she said.
One of the secrets to good comedy is a keen knowledge of your subject and how to exploit its various weaknesses. This Bottoms displayed when she then referred to the Saints “Bountygate” scandal which cost head coach Sean Payton the 2012 season, adding, “I know there’s going to be a bounty on my head for saying that. But if it can’t be the Falcons, then hey, as long as it’s not the Saints, then I’m happy.”
The second thought is a simple enough one: Outrage? Really? I never thought I’d have to give this piece of advice to New Orleans, but here goes – lighten up.
It’s all in good fun, Big Easy.
Naturally, should the Saints take out the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s NFC Championship, Atlanta will play the perfect host to all visitors, regardless of how funny they talk.
When there is something really big and important going on, Atlanta can be counted upon to be most hospitable to those from New Orleans (on a much more serious level, remember Katrina).
And on a Super Bowl week where commerce trumps all – including silly intra-divisional football rivalries – Atlanta can be counted upon to collect everyone’s money with equal pleasure. But here we must remind those from New Orleans that beads are not accepted as legal tender in this city.
Because it’s such good politics to stoke the fires of rivalry, there had to be some kind of pithy response coming from the New Orleans power structure. Tuesday, New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks appointed himself the panderer in chief.
As quoted in The Advocate, Banks declared, “I’m sorry (Bottoms) feels that way. We would welcome them here. And the end of the day they shouldn’t be mad at us that they suck.”
“It’s not our fault that they choked,” he added, referring, of course, to the Falcons blown 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI.
Now, see, that’s just the kind of attitude that’s going to create problems anywhere alcohol is served during Super Bowl week, should the fleur-de-lis army march on Atlanta.
Banks wasn’t finished there, either.
“I get it that the green monster of jealousy is raging (in Atlanta),” he was quoted in The Advocate. “They do not have a trophy and won’t be getting one anytime soon.
“We will win there. They should be happy that someone’s winning there. They can’t.”
Fellow councilman Joe Giarrusso took a little higher road when he told The Advocate, “I think I can say on behalf of the whole council: Mayor Bottoms, we expect to see you in a couple of weeks.”
Here, even before the Super Bowl teams have been decided, the animosity seems to be just a bit overheated.
Voices of reason need to be heard now, before this Atlanta-New Orleans schism gets in the way of properly hosting a bang-up Super Bowl.
Toward that end, let us as the host city promise now to treat any potential visitors from New Orleans – no matter how insufferable they may be – cordially and with respect due any happy fan base.
And to that, let us add, “Go Rams.”
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