NEW ORLEANS  _ This might not be a scientific survey, although the source can claim objectivity when it comes to assessing the impact of Adrian Peterson's employment in the city as a running back for the Saints.

"I'm born and raised in New Orleans," Vincent Norman said. "I follow the Saints, but I'm really a Steelers fan. I'm also a loud Steelers fan, which annoys a lot of my friends.

"I can give you a neutral view of Adrian Peterson coming to the Saints. I'm convinced he still has it. He's going to make a big difference."

Where's that idea come from? The Saints already had Mark Ingram.

"Peterson's a better back than Ingram," Norman said.

He was working the afternoon shift as the cook at Gallier's, a small restaurant and bar a block off Canal Street opposite from the French Quarter.  

I was in New Orleans for the first time in years on Tuesday. I went to look for the Pearl Oyster Bar, a reqular  stop on previous visits to this unique city, and discovered it did not bounce back from the post-Katrina trauma.

David, the bar manager at Gallier's, said The Pearl was able to open again some time after Katrina, but not for long.

There are numerous empty storefronts in the hub of the city, but the bar manager and others said there's been improvement in the past couple of years.

"The Essence Festival is this weekend, and that will bring 100,000, maybe 200,000, to town," David said. "Music festival, mostly hip hop, and just a great big party. And then on the Fourth of July, there's a huge fireworks display down here over the river -- beautiful, with another 100,000 people or more."

Yeah, but how about those Saints? Is Sean Payton still a hero for winning a Super Bowl seven seasons ago.

"He still has his fan base, but it's definitely getting smaller," Norman said. "The fans have had enough of those 7-9 and 8-8 years. They think it's time for another one."

Another Super Bowl?

"Maybe more than that," Norman said. "Another championship. Drew Brees is one of the five best quarterbacks in the league every year, and he's not getting any younger."

Neither is your guy Roethlisberger, Vincent? "Ben's already won two," the Gallier's cook said. "Brees needs another one. I think Peterson can help him get it. Put him with Brees and the Saints offense should be good enough to win the NFC South."

Best division in the NFL, Vincent. "True, but Atlanta is going to fall back, Carolina already fell off, and the Saints will do OK with Tampa," he said.

Do the hometown football loyalists share the optimism?

"Most of them see Adrian as an upgrade over Ingram," Norman said. "He's pretty good, but he's from Alabama and people here have a hard time ignoring that. This is a huge LSU town and it's hard for people to love an Alabama guy.

"Adrian ... he's from next door in Houston and went to Oklahoma. We don't have anything against Oklahoma, not like Alabama.

"The fans I know think Adrian can help get the Saints back to a Super Bowl."

Remind those fans Adrian already put the Saints in their only Super Bowl with his fumbles in the 2009 NFC title game?

"Nobody in New Orleans can deny that," Norman said.

Vincent the Cook has no split allegiance when it comes to New Orleans' other big league team -- the NBA Pelicans.

"We need a point guard," he said.

Our team in Minnesota wants your point guard -- Jrue Holiday -- as a free agent.

"That's fine; you can have him," Norman said. "We'll take Rubio."

Really? You would rather bring in Ricky Rubio than keep Holiday?

"In a minute," said Norman, before returning to monitor his new pot of gumbo.

         

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