Lombardi Trophy in tow, Saints will visit area hard hit by oil spill

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints and Gov. Bobby Jindal have decided to head down together to coastal Plaquemines Parish on Tuesday to visit areas affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Saints initially planned to attend a lunchtime event at the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge that day, but Jindal and the Super Bowl champions decided it would be more appropriate to meet in an area that is now suffering the adverse affects of the worst oil spill in the nation's history.

Oil has washed ashore in Plaquemines Parish, just southeast of New Orleans, killing and injuring wildlife and polluting waters where fishermen work.

"I think the idea of switching gears and having that lunch down there is appropriate," Payton said after practice Sunday. "I know the players -- all of us -- are looking forward to being down there and spending some time with those people that are going through so much."

Payton said he expects the Saints to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy and hopes his coaching staff and players can provide moral support and help keep the attention on the plight of residents whose livelihoods and way of life have been endangered by the spill.

Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, a diving enthusiast, said he has been following the news about the spill and was eager to help.

"It's just a tragedy. I know the people in that area are devastated," Shockey said. "It's hard for them because there are a lot of local fishermen and oystermen and everything. As far as the environment, it's sad to see.

"We want to offer hope, ask questions," Shockey continued. "This trip is going to be us out there interacting with everyone from that area, with the governor, the fishermen. Hopefully we can give a little bit more awareness. I know it's been publicized around the nation and the world already, but hopefully we can give people in that area a little more hope."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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