Times London: The Saints’ Super Bowl victory shows that New Orleans is back

By The Times, February 09, 2010, 5:31AM

Scott Fujita, the Saints’ linebacker, celebrates his Super Bowl win with his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

Scott Fujita, 30, the Saints’ linebacker, joined the team after Hurricane Katrina so that he could help rebuild the city, and was recently named the Saints’ Man of the Year for his good work. Yesterday he told The Times what the Super Bowl victory meant for him and for New Orleans.

The Saints were on a mission on Sunday and, despite all the naysayers, there was no way we were going to lose the game. It was much bigger than football. It was a victory for the whole city of New Orleans and for a region ravaged by such a huge natural disaster.

When my wife Jaclyn and I visited New Orleans in 2006 we knew that we had to be there and be part of the rebuilding process — something potentially much bigger than football.

It was a leap of faith and everyone thought we were crazy but it was the best decision of our lives and this is the pinnacle. It is the culmination of everything that we have done over the past four years — the team and the city together.

After the game the fans were all coming up and saying not “congratulations” but “thank you”. The leadership in New Orleans has not been that great since Katrina. But the Saints got their act together early and we feel we brought hope to the city.

Some people say that it must be a burden to have so many dreams resting on our shoulders but we have relished the opportunity and feel honoured to represent the people of New Orleans. It has made everything more meaningful.

There is still much to do. There are still so many people who have nothing, or who would like to come back to the city but can’t. People are still looking to us.

But Sunday’s victory shows the world that New Orleans is back. It should help the economy of a city that depends so heavily on tourism and conventions. A couple of years ago New Orleans was America’s murder capital but the crime rate has plummeted this season because everyone is so happy. There has not been a single homicide on game days.

My wife and I have already decided to give away half of my Super Bowl cheque of $82,000 (£52,400). Some will go to a coastal wetlands restoration project to help to protect New Orleans from storms. The rest will go to Haiti, which is even worse off than New Orleans was after Katrina.

The story of how the Saints rebuilt themselves and helped to rebuild New Orleans has resonated far beyond the state of Louisiana. Since 2006 we were America’s adopted team. After playing at Wembley in 2007 we were Britain’s adopted team. Since Sunday we’re the world’s adopted team.

It was when my wife walked on to the field that I really broke down. Every day she thanks me for bringing her to New Orleans. It’s where our life really took off.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7019836.ece

Filed in: Press Room, Writing • Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Comments

By Matt Lyons on March 7th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Scott,

I just heard the news and to say the least, we are sad. You and your family are a rock for the city and state and I only wish it could have lasted longer. You will never be forgotten. You are worth every penny you got and I wish you the very best. My new second favorite team the Cleveland Browns! BTW, I got my money on you…I think you can eat Oreos faster than Peyton!

Scott, the city of New Orleans loves you and needs more people/players like you! You are a rare breed of football players who seems to care more about his team and the city he represents than his paycheck. The thought of you leaving the Saints for the Browns makes me very sad. As a Saints fan I am deeply saddened to hear that you could not come to an agreement on what you are worth. You and your lovely wife are priceless contributors to the city and the region. Off the field being more important in the hearts of New Orleans citizens than what you so greatly accomplish on the field. Please keep New Orleans as your home. Reside in Cleveland, live in and call New Orleans home.

By Yvonne Pond on March 8th, 2010 at 7:41 am

So sad to hear that Scott will be leaving New Orleans & the Saints. Have so much respect for him & hia family. They have endeared themselves to everyone in the New Orleans area. Wish him & his familly nothing but happiness in the future & hope they will return to this area to make their home here at some time. God Speed.

I am so excited that you’re coming to Cleveland! I remember reading an article about you before the Super Bowl and thinking we need more athletes (and people) like you – and now you’ll be playing for my hometown team. Awesome. I let out a yell when I heard it in the car this morning.

great job scott and we’re sad to see you leave. you will always have a place here in new orleans waiting for you and your family.

sid

 

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About

Scott Fujita

Scott Fujita was born in Ventura, California on April 28, 1979. He was a three-sport standout at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, CA before heading to the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with Honors in Political Science and earned a Masters degree in Education.

Fujita has played in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. Read more