NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As the reporters entered the funereal Saints locker-room yesterday, the first person I saw exiting it was Rob Ryan, his mane of hair still dripping from a hurried post-game shower, head held high, chest thrust forward, striding briskly to the team bus.
Alone with his thoughts of his long-term future and his recent past. Would an excruciating afternoon in the District of Columbia be his last on the Saints' sideline? In D.C. the Saints DC had just suffered capital punishment. Was the evidence against him just too overwhelming to reach any other verdict? Now or later?
Most fans would choose now. To what benefit, we will see later. It would appear to be a Band-aid belatedly applied to a gaping wound - a metaphor I'm reluctant to employ given the events in this world since Friday.
Sports can be a much-needed diversion from the real world so often. But they don't seem so at the moment. There were and are too many reminders of where our true focus should be for me. From the moment of silence for the victims of the Paris massacre before the game to Kirk Cousins presenting his cancer-stricken father with the game ball afterward, to working alongside my broadcast partner Hokie Gajan during it. I was reminded that life's struggles are the only ones that truly matter - not those of men playing a boy's game.
My previous Saints radio partner Archie Manning summed it up for me yesterday. Having watched his two sons lose a pair of heartbreaking games and his older son perhaps having to acknowledge the approaching end of his glorious playing career, Archie said, "I hate football."
I would expect that he has a lot of company locally today. I'm in that number. The bye week will give us all a chance to get away from it for a weekend to recharge, refresh, refocus and reprioritize our lives in the meantime. To take a deep breath. I know i need that, and I would expect you might, too.