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TallySaint 09-03-2005 04:29 PM

Saints Have Hard Time Focusing on Football (
Saints having hard time focusing on football wire reports. Sep 1

OAKLAND, Calif. (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Injured New Orleans linebacker James Allen stood in the stadium tunnel minutes before kickoff with a cell phone in each hand.

The Saints' preseason finale against Oakland was far from his mind -- he needed to check in with a few people first to make sure they were fine in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"I've never witnessed anything so chaotic and disastrous," he said. "You always see things on TV or in the movies, but this is real life. ... Of course everybody says it puts football in perspective. It's damn hard to come out here and act like we're into our jobs with something like this going on. I'm sad for the city of New Orleans."

A moment of silence was held before the game, and about 100 people turned out for a last-minute blood drive sponsored by the team and the American Red Cross outside the Coliseum. The Raiders made a donation to the Red Cross and also ran public service announcements in the stadium, on their Web site and on their broadcasts encouraging people to help hurricane victims.

The Saints fled their ruined city late on Aug. 28, beating the wrath of one of America's worst storms ever by coming early to California and practicing. After this game, they were headed to San Antonio with no idea when they'll go home -- or whether they even still have homes.

Donna Stallworth, the mother of Saints receiver Donte' Stallworth, lives in Sacramento and had 15 players for dinner right after the team arrived. She cooked all day today, sending the team to Texas with everything from barbecued ribs, cornbread, ham, fried chicken, red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, brownies and lemon cake.

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