Local fans witness history as Saints make first Super Bowl

Published 1:04 am Thursday, January 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — Most everyone in the Miss-Lou had their televisions turned on to the NFC Championship Game Sunday night to see the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings and advance to the first Super Bowl in the franchise’s history.

But some locals were able to make their way to the Louisiana Superdome and witness the historic event in person.

And it is something they will never forget.

LeKeshia Jones and her friend Ashley Ellis, both English teachers at Robert Lewis Middle School, were there to be a part of the dramatic moments, heart stopping finish to regulation and explosion of emotion as Garrett Hartley’s field goal split the uprights in overtime to give the Saints a 31-28 victory.

“You couldn’t even hear anything,” Jones said. “It was just so loud and everybody was so excited. I have been to several of the Saints’ games, but by far this was the noisiest one I have gone to.”

And the emotion was ratcheted up to another level when Hartley nailed the field goal to send the Saints to Miami.

“After they kicked the field goal, people were passing out and crying,” Jones said. “It’s unbelievable how much people really have a genuine love for the Saints. Those people were actually falling out.”

Jones is a lifelong Saints fan, whose father has taken her to games since she was a child.

So it was extra special that she was able to be at the game that sent her favorite team to the Super Bowl.

“Being a part of that history was just phenomenal,” Jones said. “My dad has been a Saints fan forever, so I grew up watching the Saints with him. We’d go to two or three games every season. I’m glad I was able to be (at the NFC Championship Game) and be a part of the history.”

While Jones has been to numerous Saints games through the years, Ellis was attending her first one.

And what a first game to attend.

“It was great,” Ellis said. “It was everything I thought it would be, history being made. I heard the “Who Dat” cheer so many times I lost count.”

One thing both Jones and Ellis agreed on was the family atmosphere in the Superdome between Saints fans who were bonded by a love of the often woebegone franchise.

“It’s like a family,” Jones said. “You don’t know everybody, but to the people you’re sitting around, you’re family. We were shaking hands, high fiving and hugging everybody and taking pictures together. You don’t meet a stranger.”

And once the Saints ticket was punched to the Super Bowl, Ellis, Jones and the rest of the dome erupted as a lifelong dream was achieved.

“I can’t express how happy everyone was,” Jones said of the moments after the game ended. “Everyone has been waiting on this for so long.”