EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants Stadium will have a distinct
Bayou flavor on Monday night when the New Orleans Saints play their "home" opener against the New York Giants, nearly three weeks
after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.
Some 600 displaced New Orleans residents will be flown to the
New York-New Jersey area by relief agencies; the city's police
chief, Eddie Compass, will be involved with former president George
Bush in the coin toss; and Saints gold and black will be displayed
along the blue walls of the stadium and in one of the end zones.
"It's cool. But don't get me wrong, the New York Giants are
still playing a home game," Saints wide receiver Joe Horn said.
"Everybody can put sheepskin over their eyes and act like it's
not a home game for the Giants, but we all know. I'm sure the fans
and the New York Giants football club care about what happens and
their heart goes out to us. We will appreciate that, but we're also
not crazy and thinking it's a home game."
The pregame and halftime show also will have a New Orleans and
Gulf Coast flavor to honor those killed and displaced by Katrina.
New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis will
perform the national anthem on piano and saxophone and New Orleans
jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield will play "America the Beautiful."
The band 3 Doors Down, from Escatawpa, Miss., will perform at
At the same time, the NFL will stage a telethon to raise money
for a relief committee headed by former presidents Bush and Bill
Clinton. It will originate from ABC studios in New York and
continue through the doubleheader, which begins at 7:30 p.m. ET with the Giants-Saints game to be followed at 9 p.m. by Washington at
The New York-New Orleans game will switch in many markets to
ESPN at 9 p.m.
The Red Cross will collect money inside Giants Stadium on Monday
night, and the Giants will match the amount and donate their
portion to the relief fund. At last week's game against Arizona,
$46,000 was collected for a total contribution of $92,000.
In addition, Giants running back Tiki Barber has pledged to
donate $100 for every yard he gains and $500 for every touchdown he
scores against the Saints, with a minimum donation of $10,000.
Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team's players have already
collected $141,000 among themselves to be donated to Habitat For
Several thousand tickets remained for the game as of Wednesday
morning. Saints season ticket holders and others who had already
purchased tickets to the game were given first priority, followed
in order by Giants season ticket holders, people on the Giants'
season ticket waiting list and the general public.