CBS Misses Saints, Katrina Connection

by Kris Olson
Columnist

MIAMI– In a blunder sure to haunt the network for years to come, the Columbia Broadcasting System completely missed the opportunity to highlight the connection between Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Saints’ 31-17 victory in this year’s Super Bowl.

The championship, the first ever for the Saints, occurred fewer than five years after Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. While the residents of storm-torn New Orleans were inspired by the Saints’ victory, CBS somehow managed to overlook this association during its daylong coverage of football’s biggest game.

“I can’t believe we completely missed the connection to Hurricane Katrina,” CBS Sports President Sean McManus said. “It seems so obvious now. Like Reggie Wayne, we really dropped the ball on this one.”

The 2005 storm became notorious as a result of the botched emergency efforts by the federal government. For a city still recovering from that episode, Super Bowl XLIV provided a glimpse of hope to everyone but sportscasters like CBS’ J.B. Brown.

“It’s one of those things you just kick yourself over,” Brown said after the game. “But hindsight is 20-20, I guess.”

Instead of Katrina’s effects on New Orleans, CBS decided to focus on how the Saints and Colts, both teams that normally play in domed stadiums, might fare on natural grass. Even more embarrassing was the network’s segment on how the Colts’ appearance in the Super Bowl had inspired a city still reeling from the fire at the Indianapolis Surgical Institute in 1892.

“You look back now and wonder what we might have done differently,” Brown pondered further. “Just think of the footage we could have run! The shots of dead bodies floating in the water; the video of Bush saying, ‘Heckuva job, Brownie!’ – all of this accompanied by emotional piano music and juxtaposed with shots of Saints players volunteering in New Orleans and interviews with locals about what the Saints’ season means to the city. What were we thinking?

“In fact, I can see the tagline now: ‘New Orleans: Destroyed by George Bush, rebuilt by Reggie Bush.’”

McManus went on to lament the fact that the Saints’ victory, coupled with the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, should have been a golden opportunity to weave together several plots.

“Ensure another New Orleans doesn’t happen by texting HAITI to 90999,” was one possible advertisement McManus thought of only too late.

McManus added, “The narratives! My god, the narratives!”

CBS executives announced that they were determined not to repeat the same mistake. They pointed to their upcoming feature about how the Detroit Lions have inspired their economically unstable home city by going 2-14 this season, winning two more games than the team did last year.

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