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What If?

January 6, 2012

I grew up in the Greater New Orleans Area.

I was living in the city, proper, on Elysian Fields when Hurricane Katrina came through and flooded New Orleans with 12-15 feet of water.

My grandparents lived on Gen. Haig, in Lakeview (one of the neighborhoods decimated by the storm) where their home was destroyed. They lived in that neighborhood for 40 years and didn’t have flood insurance because their home “didn’t flood during Betsy.”  I attend Lakeview Christian Center. Our church was flooded by twelve feet of water. My uncle, aunt, and my cousin were forced to move to Houston because of the damage.

After the storm (I returned to the city the Thursday after), none of the cellphones worked because of tower damage, so we didn’t know if any of our friends or families were okay, we had to rely on land lines and a network of folks whose phones actually worked to learn news of those we loved.

Helicopters churned overhead, there was no traffic, there were no birds, the whole city smelled, and when it got dark, it was dark like it gets dark in the woods when hunting. There was no electricity. The National Guard had to drop water because of contamination. I would hear from our makeshift network of people who desperately wanted the carpet and sheet-rock removed from their homes because of the fear that mold would set in. They wanted their bloating and gaseous refrigerators removed because of all of the spoiled contents.

I would go in with a gas mask, rolls of duct tape, razor knives and flat-bars, a dolly, drinking water and a gun so that I could gut the house for people that I knew.

Mud and sediment caked the floors so slicing, sectioning and ripping out the carpet was extremely difficult and disgusting, slimy mildewing carpet is a lot heavier and pungent than normal carpet, especially when the second floor collapsed onto the first and all of the furniture floated to a random place in the house. Then I worked for a heavy construction company cutting through swamps to build a landfill for the debris and refuse. After that I worked in the processing yard for all of the fallen timber running a truck. Those piles of trees were 40 feet tall and filled all of Lafreniere Park and West End Blvd.

We were placed under martial law because of looting. It was nothing less than a war zone, complete will all of the “bombed out” buildings and helicopters overhead.

I felt punch drunk for about two years afterward. It was a difficult and historical time.

My uncle and I were speaking about Katrina this past Sunday. We were attending the Saints game dressed as Mexican Lucha Wrestlers complete with Golden Masks with embossed Fleur de Lis paired with black and gold feather boas.

Katrina is now a memory; a memory that I will forever bear the mark of in my consciousness. But for now, among my family, and in the city of New Orleans, life is good.

The Saints won the Superbowl in 2009, made the playoffs last year, and are about to play the Detroit Lions in the first round this Saturday night.

Drew Brees was the 2004 NFL comeback player of the year, Offensive Player of the year in 2008, the 2009 Superbowl MVP, the 2010 Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year, and shattered Dan Marino’s single season passing record with 5,476 yards. His jersey is the 4th most popular jersey, nationwide.

Darren Sproles broke the single season All Purpose Yards record in 2011 with 2,696.

We consistently have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL.

To end the 2011 season, the Saints set an NFL record scoring 329 points in their eight home games for an average of 41.1 points per game, breaking the old record of 292 points by the 2000 St. Louis Rams.

But, all of this almost didn’t happen.

Drew Brees nearly passed on the New Orleans Saints. If Sean Payton hadn’t accidentally taken a wrong turn into a heavily destroyed part of the city, Drew Brees would have never joined the Saints to take part in the larger purpose in New Orleans, namely, rebuilding the city.

Drew Brees is in all star and all of the pieces that Mickey Loomis has placed around he a Sean Payton have contributed to more success in the last 4 years than the Saints have enjoyed for their whole previous existence.

My uncle and I began to converse about what would have happened without Drew Brees. Brees is the lynchpin. He makes all of the rest of the players on the team much better by being a part of the team and the team makes him better as a result. They have a symbiotic relationship.

Jimmy Graham is a great tight end but he wouldn’t have been neck and neck with Gronkowski if one of the best passers in the league weren’t throwing to him…and neither would have Gronkowski.  Darren Sproles is a great RB but when he came to the Saints, he broke the APY record because of a quarterback who didn’t just hand the ball off to him.

Other examples are noticeable (more than ever) in Indianapolis.

Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon.

Remember how relevant these names have been in Fantasy Football?, not this year without Manning they weren’t.

For whatever reason, probably because keeping abreast of what is going on in O&G occupies a great deal of my time, this reminded me of the current situation with the massive amount of Oil and Natural Gas we have.

I keep thinking about what could have happened if Drew Brees hadn’t come to New Orleans. No Superbowl, no playoffs, no reason to watch a losing Saints team. The Saints would probably have relocated to San Antonio (to, ironically, become the Saint Anthony Saints).

More importantly than football, Brees and the Saints have been a pivotal part of the economic recovery of New Orleans. A city that had been decimated by Katrina needed to be rebuilt and the destruction, oddly enough, allowed for much of New Orleans to be rebuilt, including the Saints, and rebuilt better.

In this sense, I think New Orleans is a microcosm of the United States. During the last ten years, our country’s economic stability has been decimated.

I think Hydraulic Fracturing can be likened to Brees.

It is a powerful player that can unlock “talent” and make a lot of other players better. That is the caliber of the potential it possesses for the O&G team.

I don’t want to look back in retrospect and think of what could have happened if we would have just utilized the O&G we have rather than letting it pass us by. We should utilize what we have instead of paying for other countries to sell it to us. That way, we don’t “trade away our best player.”

I would much rather look back on our history with success stories about how we exploded due to our resources rather than failed to realize the potential.

Allow for the infrastructure to be created, allow us to export, allow us to convert our fleet vehicles, allow hydraulic fracturing without unnecessary and ill advised over regulation.

Otherwise, we will look a whole lot like the Colts. All of the pieces will remain but without an O&G quarterback to spread around the wealth, to “spread the rock around”, we don’t have a chance of coming back from the storm.

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