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Saints' Rise Parallels That of Their City

If there's one team that truly symbolizes its city, it's the New Orleans Saints.

The team used to be so bad that fans called the Saints the "aint's," and they would wear paper bags over their heads in shame. But, as CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported, times have changed for the team and the city.

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Cobiella traveled to New Orleans and found, from the famous jazz clubs to the city streets, all of New Orleans is singing one tune: "Who dat saying they gonna beat them Saints?"

Those eight words, Cobiella said, are now as much a part of the city as street cars and fried chicken. New Orleans fans, she said, are cheering for more than an underdog team -- they're cheering for their struggling city that's still trying to climb out of the hole that Hurricane Katrina created four and a half years ago.

Cobiella spoke to Robert Green, who lived in the Lower Ninth Ward when Katrina hit. His family was among the thousands punching holes through attics, praying for help from rooftops.

Green told Cobiella, "We were actually on the roof of our house floating in the water."

Green's mother died waiting to be rescued. His 3-year-old granddaughter also perished in the floodwaters.

Green recalling her death, said, "I put her on the roof of the house and turned around to get her sister, and when I turned back around she had fell in 25 feet of water."

Like hundreds of others, Green was plucked from the roof of a home and taken to the Superdome.

Green said, "We saw people crying, we saw people starving. For kids, for adults, for old people, it was just a horrible place to be."

The Superdome was a symbol of all that went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, Cobiella said, with one kick, it turned into a symbol of hope, resilience and survival. The team came home, rebuilt and won.

Today, Green has a new house on his old street. His neighbors are starting coming back, too. Cobiella said everybody is a Saints fan in Green's neighborhood because they all want to believe that despite the odds, they too can win.

"It's not about football," Green said. "It's about showing that we are survivors, we are achievers, and we are going to be champions."

On "The Early Show," Rita Benson LeBlanc, part-owner and executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints, agreed there is a parallel between the city and the football team.

Ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 most powerful women in professional sports, LeBlanc said the energy of the city fuels the football team.

"The people of New Orleans have saved themselves," she said. "We might be the most high profile company, but we're showcasing what everyone else has gone through to rebuild and to work hard. It's taken five years to build this team, so this is a fantastic, just reward for all the hard work that we've been doing, both in the city, but also with football team."

LeBlanc said the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left incredible tragedy, but, in the end, inspired the city.

"It makes you realize what's important and what is key and what drives in you in life -- our music, our food, but absolutely Saints football," she said. "So we're tenacious, we're happy, we're celebrating in New Orleans, and the people have waited so long for this."

For more with LeBlanc's interview with "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, click on the video below.


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