Tonight’s Monday Night Football game – the Atlanta Falcons versus the New Orleans Saints (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) – marks the 10-year anniversary of the reopening of the Louisiana Superdome following Hurricane Katrina.
ESPN televised that historic game on MNF a decade ago as the Saints beat the Falcons, 23-3. The memories of that night and the many surrounding events of Sept. 25, 2006, remain an immense source of pride for New Orleanians, including a member of ESPN’s crew.
ESPN content associate Corey Taylor is a New Orleans native. He’s been with ESPN for three-and-a-half years and this is his first season working MNF. Tonight, he will be in a production truck serving as an in-game assistant package producer, responsible for logging video elements for playback during the telecast.
Taylor speaks with Front Row about his hometown, being in the dome for the Saints’ reopening game in 2006, and having the opportunity to return home to work MNF tonight.
When did you live in New Orleans?
I grew up there, specifically in New Orleans East, for 13 years. I had the privilege of spending my entire life in in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina.
– ESPN content associate Corey Taylor, a New Orleans native, reflecting on Hurricane Katrina’s damages
How were you affected by Katrina in 2005?
My family pretty much lost everything. We had about four feet of water in our home, and, unfortunately, due to the mold/mildew backup, a lot of our items were unserviceable by the time we could make it home. We moved to Lake Charles, La., to stay with family. We were comfortable there for about six weeks until another storm (Hurricane Rita) damaged our temporary home. Through everything, we were able to still make it back to New Orleans and rebuild our home.
You worked as a server in a suite at the Superdome the night of the 2006 game. Describe your experience that night.
Being at that game was one of the best decisions I’d ever make. It was the big MNF game that we’d been anticipating for months. At first, I wanted to just stay home and watch it, to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything. My mother, who staffs employees for the Superdome, thought otherwise. I remember her telling me, “You can be in the middle of everything special tonight, and still make money. You’re working this game!” I’m so happy I did.
That moment reassured that not only was the city coming back, but we had a football team that was right in it with us. When [Steve] Gleason blocked the punt, the stadium erupted. It’s the loudest I’d ever hear the Superdome. Watching the clip still gives me chills. It was truly a remarkable night.
What’s it like to go back 10 years later and now work on the ESPN telecast of tonight’s MNF game?
It honestly still feels surreal. This is my first year working MNF, so I’m honored just to be a part of this crew. Still, it feels like everything has come full circle. From working as a server just 10 years ago to now be working the actual production, it’s definitely a blessing. Ten years ago, there was no way I would believe this was possible. I’m just grateful for the opportunity, and the chance to work with so many great people.
My mother’s also very excited for me and this game, of course. We had dinner with the crew Saturday night to give them a true taste of New Orleans!