Saints forced to wait, watch from California

Updated: August 31, 2005, 10:35 PM ET
Associated Press

FREMONT, Calif. -- Though the Saints are safe in California while Hurricane Katrina ravages New Orleans, receiver Joe Horn plans to use some of the team's three days off this weekend to visit his beleaguered hometown.

"I was going to keep that quiet," Horn said Wednesday in the lobby of the Saints' team hotel on the eve of their preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders. "I'm going to try to help, donate money, try to feed the families who have been in the Superdome, do whatever it takes.

"If I have to spend a million dollars to get food, anything monetarily, I'll do that."

According to general manager Mickey Loomis, the Saints will fly directly to San Antonio following the game against the Raiders, and will remain there to prepare for the season opener Sept. 11 at Carolina.

During a team meeting Monday, a few players questioned whether playing a game at this time was appropriate -- but most players thought it might be a morale booster for the city flooded by the hurricane.

"It might be a ray of light for the people who can't get out of town," tight end Shad Meier said.

"As football players, as a team, I think this game is going to be good for us," Horn said. "We've got to give our fans something, something to look forward to. At least they'll know that we're going to go out there and play as hard and the best we can to show the fans that we love them.

"In this business, the NFL must go on. That's just the way it is. The games are going to be played, regardless."

Loomis said the Saints will use one of the same fields they practiced on last year when they fled to San Antonio to avoid Hurricane Ivan.

It's still uncertain whether the Superdome will be ready Sept. 18 for the home game against the New York Giants. If the Superdome can't be cleaned up and repaired by then, the game would have to be moved to an as-yet-undetermined location. Tiger Stadium, LSU's home field in Baton Rouge, is a possibility, as is Reliant Stadium in Houston and the Alamodome in San Antonio.

"It doesn't look very good," Loomis said about the chances of playing in the Superdome in 10 days. "We haven't got all our possible sites listed yet. From an emotional standpoint, we'd like to play the Sept. 18th game in Louisiana."

Most of the players and other members of the traveling party didn't know whether they had sustained property damage because phones using the 504 area code don't get or receive calls. All the players can do is watch the cable news channels in their hotel rooms.

"You have people who are trying to survive and unrealistic looters who are trying to get sneakers and shirts to put on because it's wet out there," Horn said after watching TV accounts of stores being cleaned out by mobs in New Orleans. "I'm not upset by people breaking in and getting things.

"To take things like DVD players, TVs and things like that, that's just crazy. But I would be doing the same thing if I were in New Orleans and my children needed to eat or I had to go to the mall to get a shirt for them to wear. Guess what, you'd be calling Joe Horn [a] looter. The businesses there aren't going to sell anything, because it's all going to be under water. If I owned a business, I'd be telling the people to come get it."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press