But New Orleans isn't Bunkie and Roger Goodell isn't anywhere near as cool as Cooter. And yet our leaders are nervously lecturing the rest of us about how to behave.
At a media luncheon hosted by the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee announcing the latest preparations for Super Bowl XLVII, Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged New Orleans to be on its best behavior — not only is the Super Bowl the city's time in the spotlight, and a time to show off its southern hospitality, but it also must prove it can do it again.
"It's a great joy and a blessing to have an opportunity to host this event," he told the crowd. "It's our time to shine, it's our time to tell our story. ... It's important to me that we do the thing we do better than anybody, which is be nice, and be hospitable. ... If Atlanta gets in the Super Bowl, I'm a struggle, but I promise you, I will be on my best behavior. ... Be gracious and wonderful hosts and show people the hospitality they deserve. This extends to Roger Goodell, too. I know everybody in the city is belly aching about the last year. But here's the thing: Roger Goodell has always been a friend to the City of New Orleans, and he and (former commissioner) Paul Tagliabue ... have worked really hard to make sure this stays here. ... Mind your P's and Q's."
It's astounding and insulting that the Mayor would assume New Orleanians won't be gracious hosts to Atlanta fans. We host major events here all the time many of which are also football games. Sure there are always some rude people in any crowd, but by and large, Saints fans are uncommonly gracious and friendly to visitors... especially the ones who want to dance with us.
I understand that there may be some bad feelings left over from the way 49ers fans treated visiting New Orleanians last year, but I don't expect that to be a problem. But if the Falcons are coming, well, we know those people already. We don't like their team or their city very much but we're used to having them come over.
Being grown-ups ourselves, we understand football fans are just people having a good time. But even the grown-ups in New Orleans do enjoy their pet outrages. And right now Roger Goodell is cruising along that Michael Brown-Alan Richman-Ed Blakely-Spoons Butler plane of local infamy. Shouldn't he be at least a little bit worried? Probably not. In our long history of collective civic pooh-poohing of individuals the closest we've come in modern times to converting our offense into action happened during an episode of a bad television show that writes us poorly anyway. If Mitch Landrieu believes New Orleanians need to be told how to behave in front of visitors, he's also not getting our character right. To hear him tell it, New Orleans is a city full of rube (buffoons if you like Ed Blakely's word) who can't be trusted to behave around their betters.
Furthermore, the Mayor hints... actually more than hints, he just comes out and says... that even if residents have a serious grievance against Mr. Goodell, it would be best that we swallow our pride and smile anyway because... again according to the Mayor... a city like New Orleans can't afford to offend a powerful and important man like Goodell.
This is all embarrassingly bush league. Major cities do not exist solely to service the convention business or cater special events. In other words, these events are not doing us a favor simply by coming here. They come here because New Orleans is a place people want to visit. And this is, in large part, because of the people and culture that exists here not, as the Mayor implies by his nervous instruction, in spite of it. Other cities do not suffer from this lack of self-confidence and neither should we. And maybe a man who exhibits such poor faith in the residents shouldn't be mayor.
*Fact check: Probably apocryphal. I don't think there's actually a K-Mart in Bunkie.