McAllister, perhaps more than any other Saints player, knows how much a victory against the Eagles would mean to this city. As corny as it might sound, these people have wrapped their arms around the Saints and they don't want to let go yet. McAllister often is stopped by fans who simply say, "It means so much for you guys to do well."
The Saints are New Orleans' escape from reality. When the team made its 2006 regular-season debut at the refinished Superdome on Sept. 25, McAllister thought the crowd noise was going to rupture the roof.
"And this game will rival the opening of the Superdome," he says.
Soon, we pull into the practice facility's parking lot. What was supposed to be a 45-minute interview has become a full chunk of his afternoon. And all because McAllister doesn't want America to forget that all is not right with the city he loves. Not yet it isn't.
"What can I do for you?" I say, as he hands me the car keys.
"You're doing it now," he says. "Just get that word out."
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.