Superdome becomes symbol of a ruined city
By Bernie Miklasz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Sep. 03 2005

Watching the depressing and disturbing video images from the refugee camp at
the Superdome in New Orleans, I couldn't help but think about all of the
wonderful sporting events I'd covered in that venue through the years,
including four Super Bowls and two NCAA basketball Final Fours.

And like all tourists who have had the pleasure to visit New Orleans, I
treasured the city's magnificent restaurants, the music scene, the genial and
colorful personality of the people.

Will New Orleans, can New Orleans, ever be the same?

It's become a cliche for sports columnists (including this one) to write about
the need for keeping sports in "perspective" in the aftermath of a national
tragedy.

I won't do that now, except to share a personal reflection from late Thursday
night, as I watched more video of the suffering in New Orleans.

One of the most memorable days for me in New Orleans was Feb. 2, 2002. The
Super Bowl. The Rams, of course, lost to the New England Patriots 20-17 on a
last-second 48- yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. It was a stunning
upset, and Vinatieri's kick broke hearts all over St. Louis.

Some friends from St. Louis were sitting in the end zone, watching Vinatieri's
game winner float through the uprights, deflating their spirit as it traveled
toward them. Later Sunday evening, I saw hundreds of glum Rams fans out in the
French Quarter, unable to mask their shock and sorrow. It was such an agonizing
day for Rams fans. I felt bad for the fans, the players, the coaches, staff,
and everyone who cared about the Rams.

Those emotions were genuine at the time, and there's no need to apologize for
them now.

But in retrospect the grieving over a lost game seems so silly and
insignificant as we sit safely at our homes in St. Louis, watching the
devastating scenes at the Superdome. The NFL staged grand, important football
games there once. But now the battered building stands as the most recognizable
symbol of a city in ruins.

As others see us

Rams predictions:

Associated Press football writer Barry Wilner picks the Rams to win
the NFC West with a 9-7 record and writes, "The Rams should have plenty of
offense and just enough defense to overcome any challenges - and overcome coach
Mike Martz's sometimes strange sideline decisions."

The Rams are also the NFC West choice of Clark Judge of CBS
Sportsline.com: "Make them the favorite in a photo finish with Arizona," he
writes. But Dan Pompei of The Sporting News marks the
Rams down for 8-8, second in the division to Arizona.

Sports Illustrated football writer Paul Zimmerman ranks the Rams
14th overall among the NFL's 32 teams and says they'll win the division with a
9-7 record.

This was among the observations in the "Enemy Lines" scouting section of the
Rams' preview in Sports Illustrated: "They're in shambles at the top - all the
infighting between the front office and coach - and that stuff's going to
trickle down onto the field."