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No cheering in the pressbox

As a journalist it is our utmost responsibility to remain as objective as possible.

In fact at most college and even professional football games I've attended, the announcer within the pressbox reminds journalists that cheering is prohibited.

But I'm sure that wasn't the case on Sunday in Charlotte.

Watching the game between New Orleans and Carolina at home, I couldn't help but cheer when John Carney's game-winning 47-yard field goal split the uprights to give New Orleans a 23-20 win.

The win wasn't just for the members of the Saints' 65-man roster, their coaching staff or their owner, but it was for the thousands of people who were displaced by one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

New Orleans wideout Joe Horn was told by one evacuee that all he wanted was a Saints' victory.

Horn and the Saints delivered.

"This one was for the people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama," Horn said in a published report. "All game long the words from the people back home kept going through my mind. God bless those people. I'm still crying for them."

While Horn may weep, the people of New Orleans have something to cheer about while trying to bounce back from the hell that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Bayou.

Football may not be everything to everyone. For the people of New Orleans, football and the Saints are all they have right now.

"We feel as if we're carrying the weight of the city on our shoulders," center LeCharles Bentley told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "In a way, we're the last true representation of the city right now."

New Orleans needs something positive to lift its spirits.

It's impossible to think that the Saints will go undefeated and end up playing in the Super Bowl, but somewhere in the back of everyone's mind that hope is there.

"We're going to dedicate this whole season to the people back in Louisiana," Saints defensive end Charles Grant told the Times-Picayune. "So for us to keep going and make the people proud, as well as ourselves, we've got to play hard like this every week."

The Saints have not been a media darling in quite some time. Sure there are a few times when they garnered the spotlight for acts like Horn pulling out a cell phone and acting like he was calling someone after scoring a touchdown.

Then there were those lean years when Saints fans would show up wearing paper sacks over their heads.

The Saints have never been a popular team among the media, including yours truly. But I wouldn't be surprised if I pay more attention to the score ticker looking for the Saints' score this season than ever before.

The allure of Sunday's game certainly drew me in so much that I wouldn't dream of changing the channel for the fear that I would miss a play.

Journalists are supposed to be unbiased. But the Saints would have be an exception to that rule.

So excuse me if I stand and pump a fist after Carney's kick.

That's not necessarily for the Saints, it's for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can call him at (334) 383-9302 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.