Excitement is real in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS –- What is the atmosphere like here in New Orleans as the Patriots prepare to face the Saints?

Troy Falterman, 37, helped us find out. A Louisiana native now living in Houston, he traveled home for Monday night’s game.

“I think everyone is extremely excited,” he said after eating lunch at Luke, one of the downtown hot spots. “Any time you have a chance to play the Patriots, who have been the face of the NFL for the last decade, it’s a measuring stick. The Saints are 10-0 and I think everyone in the city believes they have the right ingredients to win the Super Bowl. In playing the best, you have a chance to see what you have, and I think that’s what tonight is all about.”

Falterman touched on what the Saints mean to the city.

“Everything,” he said. “New Orleans is not a corporate city, so people put the Saints right behind family. That’s the high regard in which the team is held. The city, no doubt about it, will be on the ultimate high if they win. If they lose, you’ll see a real downer. The city really ebbs and flows with the Saints. People live and die with them. The passion is as good as anywhere else in the NFL.”

As for Falterman’s background with the team, he remembers being in grammar school and learning how to count by reciting the Saints’ jersey numbers.

“I knew number 8 was Archie Manning and 42 was Chuck Muncie, that’s just the way it was,” he said. “Ever since I was a little boy, we went to the Superdome. To me, football was the Saints. That’s the way you grew up and I think it’s that way for most in the city.

“I think you’ll see the passion the Saints fans have, and the love for the team. The city has its issues -- hurricanes and other things. But when the Saints play, it’s one city, no matter what. There will be all walks of life at the dome tonight, and there will be only one thing that matters -- the Saints getting a win.”