In New Orleans, Undefeated Saints Go Marching On The New Orleans Saints are undefeated in their first eight games of the season, and the city is ecstatic. Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers marks New Orleans' best start ever.
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In New Orleans, Undefeated Saints Go Marching On

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In New Orleans, Undefeated Saints Go Marching On

In New Orleans, Undefeated Saints Go Marching On

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

The New Orleans Saints are now eight and 0, undefeated at the midpoint of their season. They beat the Carolina Panthers yesterday. The final score was 30 to 20. The perfect start has given hope to a city that has often hosted a Super Bowl, but never quite managed to get its team into one. Melanie Peeples listened in to what a football Sunday sounds like now in New Orleans.

MELANIE PEEPLES: Sunday morning in this devoutly Catholic city finds much of New Orleans in church.

OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA C: (Singing) Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of far and wide...

PEEPLES: At Our Lady Star of the Sea in a St. Roch neighborhood, Father Tony Ricard(ph) leads a full congregation decked out in black and gold, many of them in Saint's jerseys looking like they plan on dashing straight from the pews to the big game. Services are running a little long today and Father Tony knows it.

LADY STAR OF THE SEA C: We all know it is almost time for us to get out of here, even though we've got like three hours and 27 minutes before we have to be somewhere. But all I can tell y'all is, what a joy it is to be in a church as a church family that's undivided and have a team who's the New Orleans Saints that's undefeated. We know what we're talking about now.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

PEEPLES: This kind of Saints fever can't be contained. It spills over into everything. And while the stained-glass Saints looking down from above are glorious, there are praises to be sung in another kind of cathedral just a couple miles away.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ MUSIC)

PEEPLES: Outside the Superdome, amidst the strains of a brass band stopping traffic, the fervent faithful gather.

PEEPLES: This year's different. I'm so excited I can't hardly stand it.

PEEPLES: Martha Elliot has been a Saint's fan her whole life, but this year, she's enraptured in pure Ecclesiastical ecstasy.

PEEPLES: Because it's just got that feeling. It's the spirit. It's the spirit. It's there. This year's our year.

PEEPLES: Let's just say there have been a lot of seasons when it wasn't their year.

PEEPLES: Oh yeah, I was a fan whenever the years when they were one and 15 and two and 14 and stuff like that.

PEEPLES: Kevin Delcam is another lifelong fan, one who never donned a paper bag over his head in shame or referred to the team as the Ain'ts.

PEEPLES: I mean I went through the rough years and you're kind of like, man, golly, what are they going to do? And now, you're finally see that they're doing good and then everybody gets behind them and I think the whole state is behind them.

PEEPLES: It's not the first time. Three years ago the Saints made it to the playoffs when New Orleans really needed a lift.

PEEPLES: It's like Hurricane Katrina. Everybody got together and they got behind the Saints and the same thing now.

PEEPLES: With only one difference: last time everyone was united in tragedy. This time, with the city's population around 78 percent of what it was before Katrina, and people no longer asking whether or not New Orleans would come back, everyone's united in pure fun. That's a real milestone, and it feels good to people like Dennis Hallogan(ph).

PEEPLES: Black and gold everywhere you go, everyone, it's just like a big family now. It's just all come together on Sundays. It's like Thanksgiving, a big turkey dinner, I mean just everybody comes together. It's a blast.

PEEPLES: For NPR News, I'm Melanie Peeples in New Orleans.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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