As the 2012 N.F.L. season opened, Louisiana had 61 players in the league — more per capita than any state (though slightly fewer than Washington, D.C.) for the fourth consecutive year, according to USA Football, the national governing body. In settings both urban and rural along the I-10 corridor, football fits seamlessly into an outdoor culture that takes its fun seriously, be it sports, cooking, imbibing, hunting or fishing.
“We’ve got kids who can play on the offensive line and put together a motor on a boat blindfolded,” said John Lambert, an assistant at Hahnville High who grew up in West Virginia and sometimes wonders to himself, “Did I just really yell, ‘Leave the alligator alone?’ ”
The regional craving for football is fed by a well-organized youth development system, sophisticated and long-term coaching at the high school level and liberal rules that, in effect, allow Louisiana’s prep teams to practice year-round within certain limits.