SUPER BOWL XLIV IS LOVE/HATE FOR TWO MULES
A New Orleans native, Chalew, like the majority of the city’s residents, has been closely following the Saints’ thrilling run to the Super Bowl all season. Though he does not consider himself a huge football fan, he has seen the impact the team has had on a city still rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“Coming back from the storm a stronger and better team reflects the mentality of everyone in New Orleans, and is a symbol of the rebuilding process,” said Chalew (right). “The fact that the team can come back better than ever gives New Orleans hope that it, too, can come back better.”
Not too long ago the Saints were known for their futility. From their inaugural season in 1967 to 2005 – the year Katrina hit – they won just one playoff game and reached the postseason just five times. But since the devastating low of the storm the Saints have reached their greatest highs, unifying the residents of New Orleans in a lasting way.
“My friends and family back home cannot even explain to me the sense of camaraderie and simple joy that everyone is experiencing,” said Chalew. “New Orleans has been taken over by ‘Who Dat’ hysteria. My parents tell me people are going crazy and hugging in the streets.
“There is a general feeling of well-being and hope in the city right now,” he added. “Something special is going on.”
The Colts, who are seeking their second championship in four years, are also backed by a passionate fan base. But the team’s secretive move from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1983 has left the residents of Baltimore, Jacobson included, hating the Colts.
“My dad was a diehard Baltimore Colts fan – he had season tickets in the nosebleeds,” said Jacobson (left). “Since the day I was born I’ve been taught to hate the Colts.”
Baltimore’s bitterness towards the Colts extends so deep that, Jacobson notes, when they come to play the Ravens, the scoreboard only reads “Indianapolis” and does not acknowledge the Colts moniker that once belonged to Baltimore.
While many without a vested interest in either team may be pulling for the underdog Saints and, in turn, the city of New Orleans, Jacobson hasn’t noticed a rooting trend one way or the other among Muhlenberg’s students.
“The World Series really had the campus split because of geography,” he said. “But I think with this Super Bowl people are just hoping for something exciting.”
And if the tale of this year’s Super Bowl is not evidence enough of the unifying power of sports – in both love and hate – then there is also the story of Chalew and Jacobson themselves.
Displaced from home after Katrina, Chalew spent his freshman year of high school in Baltimore, where he attended school with Jacobson. They met, as teammates, on the soccer field.
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