Saints, Colts Fans: This Super Bowl Is More Than About Sports

Despite the call for some wicked winter weather this weekend along the East Coast, fans are still pumped about Sunday’s big game: The face-off between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl Super Bowl XLIV. Two regular guests of Tell Me More, Gralen Banks, of New Orleans, and Damond Smart, of Elkhart, Indiana to get their feelings about the big game, and what the game means to both areas that are still struggling to recover from challenging times.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

On to what is, for some, a quasi-religious experience: the Super Bowl. How a major winter storm is headed for the northeast that will not dampen the spirits of those who are pumped about the Big Game Sunday, the face-off between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

What is a Super Bowl without some wishing and bragging? So, we caught up with two of our regular guests on the program: Gralen Banks of New Orleans, and Damond Smart of Elkhart, Indiana to get their feelings about the big game.

You might remember that both come from areas struggling to recover from hard times the devastating flood in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, and almost as devastating unemployment in Indiana.

Mr. GRALEN BANKS: As devastating as the rainstorm and those puddles we had a few years ago, you might hear some about, this was that times 20 in the opposite direction. Cow horns blowing, spontaneous parades popping up, brass bands in the streets, fireworks, hugging, just everywhere.

MARTIN: And that, says Mr. Banks, was the rumble of the Who Dat Nation.

Mr. BANKS: Who Dat has been around for a long time and thats that loud, insane, friendly game, fanatic fan that is a part of the Who Dat Nation from one side of the world to the other side.

MARTIN: Indiana might not have the caravan of the Who Dat Nation, but Damond Smart says the Hoosier State has plenty of its own reasons for wanting to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Mr. DAMOND SMART: A lot of people dont have jobs, and theyre going to help bring Indiana because the game is what brings everyone together.

MARTIN: On Sunday, the New Orleans Saints will walk on to the football field as the perceived underdogs, but Gralen Banks says thats okay.

Mr. BANKS: Its rare that you have a team that makes it to the Super Bowl the first time and wins it. The Super Bowl is a lot of hype, its a lot of hoopla, its a lot of life and its a lot of pressure. But unlike what Jonathan Vilma said, were not here to take your business. And Sunday, you see exactly what were here for.

MARTIN: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilmas perspective just might be a winning one, but Damond Smart says Vilma and the Saints are no match for Indianapolis star quarterback Peyton Manning.

Mr. SMART: Peyton is just he keeps his team focused all day, you know. Its never a win until the end. So, I mean all wins and the losses never mean anything until this game right here, and theyre going to give it their all.

MARTIN: Damond and Gralen were sportsmen-like about their rivalry, but firm in their support for their home teams.

Mr. SMART: Best man win, but the Colts dont look like theyre going to lose.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SMART: Im sorry. But, hey, (unintelligible).

Mr. BANKS: I understand clearly, my friend. I feel the same. At the end of the day, I hope that every player combatant on the field leaves physically the same way, may be a little bit tired except for one major difference and that difference will be, at the end of the day, the Saints will have a W and Colts will have an L, but its still going to be (unintelligible) love to all of the folks in Indianapolis because they needed a New Orleans boy to take them where they needed to go.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BANKS: We love you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Gralen Banks of New Orleans and Damond Smart of Elkhart, Indiana were kind enough to share their winning spirit and talk a little trash with TELL ME MORE producer Lee Hill.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: Coming up, the barbershop guys debate dont ask, dont tell and give their spin on the Super Bowl.

Thats just ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Im Michel Martin.

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