On Sept. 25, 2006, the New Orleans Saints were returning to the rebuilt Superdome for the first time after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and forced the team to spend an entire season out of town.
It was one of the most memorable nights not only in Saints history, but in New Orleans history. The Saints were 3.5-point home underdogs but beat the rival Atlanta Falcons 23-3 on Monday Night Football in the home debuts of coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, running back Reggie Bush and receiver Marques Colston.
ESPN re-aired the game Monday (part of its five-week Monday Night Football Classics series), and many former Saints tweeted all day and during the game to share their memories -- including Steve Gleason, whose blocked punt in that game is so revered that a statue of it sits outside the stadium. Fans got involved, too.
Here are some of their best tweets from the night. Or jump to a section:
Little known fact:— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 7, 2020
I was afraid every single time I stepped on the field with the @Saints Every time I crossed the line, I acknowledged the fear. I reminded myself that I had prepared, I knew the environment, my opponent, and my opportunity. "Proceed with your very best effort."
ESPN nailed it that night, staying quiet for a minute and letting the crowd be heard. And kudos to @miketirico who told me later, "I am so glad that I said, 'Touchdown, New Orleans.' Because it wasn't a Saints touchdown, it was a New Orleans touchdown. And then we shut up."— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) April 7, 2020
The field needed to settle or be packed down. Slippery surface.— deuce mcallister (@dmcallister26) April 7, 2020
I like to think I taught @harp41 everything he knows. Ha! Also, pretty honorable of @jim_morafb to live tweet during this game. Clearly, the game was/is much bigger than football. https://t.co/5qUrpHN6Tk— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 7, 2020
Devery so damn fast tho!!!— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) April 7, 2020
Probably an under appreciated moment in this game as @ninko50 tears his ACL... maybe never would have let him get away if not...— Zach Strief (@ZachStrief) April 7, 2020
First time the @saints scored two TDs in the 1st Q since 1998!!!! Times have changed eh— Zach Strief (@ZachStrief) April 7, 2020
Tough to find the right words for your team at a halftime like this one; "block out the noise, focus on the fundamentals, one play at a time,— Jim Mora (@jim_morafb) April 7, 2020
Fight your ass off" @Saints @NFL @espn @drewbrees @SteveGleason https://t.co/QRUhtpnSSk
Interesting that the kickers in this game were a combined 121 years old— Zach Strief (@ZachStrief) April 7, 2020
I can't be the only person shaking their head in amazing when I hear @miketirico talk about @drewbrees being 27yrs old and being the @Saints Qb. #wow time flies and some how some things don't ever change🙏🏾🙌🏾🤟🏾 #whoday #MNFRetro— Roman Harper (@Harp41) April 7, 2020
Mn, seeing all these teammates. I am so fortunate to have played with all these guys. I type with my eyes, so I'm not going to mention all of them, but I think Will Smith represents just how special this 2006 @Saints team was. Thanks dudes.— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 7, 2020
Little known fact:— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
I blocked 4 punts in 8 years with the @Saints
In 8 years of high school & college football, I blocked a total of zero punts.
As an undrafted free agent, I knew I had to get innovative with any resources at my disposal to have an NFL career. #Rebirth2020 1/4
Fortunately, for the first 6 years of my career, the @Saints had a special teams coach, Al Everest, who was my Jedi master. After my rookie year, I would sit in his office for hours seeking any edge I could find. We watched a game where I nearly blocked a punt. #Rebirth2020 2/4— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
Al told me that if I worked on a technique he had, he could teach me to block punts. He added that if a team blocks a punt they have 93% chance of winning. That was all I had to hear. Al cast a vision, and I committed to transform myself to become a Jedi. #Rebirth2020 3/4— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
Al Everest died in 2019. I can say that without his guidance, I never make it in the NFL. His knowledge of the strategies and tactics of special teams & his ability to teach these things to players was, well masterful@Lewlew84Michael will agree, I'm sure#Rebirth2020 4/4— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
Let's put on our Black and Gold and reunite to relive a game that has come to symbolize the strength, perseverance and unity of our community. @Saints vs. @AtlantaFalcons tonight on ESPN - 7pm CT. #BlackandGoldMonday #Domecoming pic.twitter.com/xXywZ1GExM— Mercedes-Benz Superdome (@MBSuperdome) April 6, 2020
The game was more than just about football. The best part of re-airing this iconic game is that it celebrates the great city, fans, & region...again.— Mike Karney (@Karney44) April 6, 2020
My hope is this can be an inspiration to everyone during this difficult & unfamiliar time.
Tonight 8 pm est on ESPN! ⚜️#rebirth pic.twitter.com/wHfgT02nPp
New Orleans. It's not the Moon, but this is pretty wonderfully wonderful. Step outside! pic.twitter.com/Xzw2cWyreM— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
As we prepared for this game, coach Bonamego noticed a couple flaws in the Falcons protection scheme. I typically blocked punts from the "C" gap, between the tackle & the wing. Bono saw weakness in the interior. We studied & practiced. The design was Perfection #Rebirth2020— Steve Gleason - This too shall pass... (@SteveGleason) April 6, 2020
Saints inactives for tonight's game: Jason Fife, DeJuan Groce, Corey McIntyre, Alfred Fincher, Zach Strief, Rob Petitti, Jamal Jones, Antwan Lake#Rebirth2020— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) April 6, 2020
@SeanPayton that play haunted me for the longest... But as life, went on, I realized it was never my play to make... I'm so proud of @SteveGleason and the entire @Saints organization for that season, and extremely humbled to have had a small role:)— Bryan Scott (@teambryanscott) April 6, 2020
The Saints couldn't resist an opportunity to troll the Falcons over their blown lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
Happy #BlackAndGoldMonday! ⚜️ Sport your black & gold and tune in tonight at 7 pm CT as @ESPN re-airs New Orleans' 23-3 win over the @AtlantaFalcons in the first game played at the Dome following Hurricane Katrina. pic.twitter.com/2VdToVERwQ— McKell Favrot (@McKellFavrot) April 6, 2020
FANS WITH MASKS
At our French Quarter home ready for @Saints vs @AtlantaFalcons on Monday night! Rockin @Rickthelaureate and @dmcallister26 jerseys. #NeverPunt #NoWhiteFlags Love you @SteveGleason !! #BlackAndGoldMonday #whodatforlife pic.twitter.com/hlYycnyXRe— Amelie Duplessis (@AmyEDuplessis) April 6, 2020