Aug 01 2017

A Local's Life: A Look at a Few Die-Hard Saints Fans

By: Leigh Wright

Dallas has their Cowboys. Oakland has their Raiders. New Orleans is proud to have their Saints.

It’s hard to explain to someone (me) outside of an NFL town just how much that team affects its inhabitants. It’s easier to understand when those emotional fluctuations happen in the microcosm of New Orleans. Monday Morning Quarterback Syndrome spreads throughout the city, carrying locals into either a victorious and happy week, or a sullen humdrum until college football Saturday the following weekend.

Continuing with a look into the local life here in New Orleans, here are three Who Dat Nation die-hards.

These aren’t your Saints Superfans. They are all of us. The ones who bleed black and gold due to a sense of duty, or a sense of adventure. They get up on gameday with a renewed sense of love for the city and the team—no matter the Saints’ record. They may not make it on TV or the ESPN reel, but that doesn’t give their presence any less importance. It is precisely these fans who make up the majority of the Who Dat Nation.

A Local's Life: A Look at a Few Die-Hard Saints Fans

Rose Napier, Owner/Founder of Bayou Demo:

Fiercely New Orleanian. It’s fans like Napier that give the Saints their reputation. Boisterous, a loving and supportive Saints fan, always found with a beer in hand, she is one of the poster children for the Who Dat Nation.

What turned you into a Saints fan? 

“My grandmother. She would sit me down every Sunday to watch games with her after church.”

What is your most memorable experience? 

“The year we went to the playoffs before the Super Bowl. My dad was in town that year, and he took me to all of the games leading up to the playoffs, and then on to the playoff games.”

Do you think Saints fans are the most dedicated? 

“Absolutely. No fair-weather fans or see-saw fans that I know of. You're either in or you're out.”

What are your gameday traditions? 

“Tailgating or just going to my favorite bar [Bayou Beer Garden or Pal’s in Mid-City], or watching it with my Na Na for old time’s sake.”

What is your favorite gameday food?

“Bud Light.”

How does the city act when the Saints win versus when they lose? 

“When we win, you can feel the city become happier on a Monday morning than if we lose. Monday after a losing game is the worst day ever. I feel like the crime rate spikes on losing nights as well.”

Do you have a favorite player?

“Not really, because I love them all for each role they play to contribute to a win.”

If you could have dinner with any Saints player/coach (dead or alive), who would it be? 

“That's tough. Darren Sharper, to ask him what the F he was thinking to ruin his career as one of the best athletes. In the past: Iron Head Hayward.”

Who is your favorite Saints Superfan? 

“Leroy Whistle Monster and the Bless You Boys, along with the Joker and Dat Mouse.”

A Local's Life: A Look at a Few Die-Hard Saints Fans

Roger Blais, Bartender in the Polo Lounge at the Windsor Court:

Genuine nice guy—the type of person you want as your friend—and die-hard sports fan. Roger completes the pie chart of Saints fans as the quieter, more astute, and highly intelligible New Orleanian. His pride in the Saints isn’t shown by yelling in the street, but supported on factual encounters, trades, contracts, and statistics. Basically, the type of fan who can actually talk on Monday morning with some quality conversation.

After moving to the city, his first game was the infamous “paper bag” game in 1980. Despite this, his Saints love was solidified against all odds.

What are your gameday traditions?

“Trying to get to the game before kick-off.”

What is your favorite gameday food?

“Dome dog.”

How does the city act when the Saints win versus when they lose?

“The common bond from shoe shine man to bank president is the Saints’ win or loss. It’s always the topic of conversation on Monday morning.”

Do you have a favorite player? 

“Lance Moore.” (Why wouldn’t it be? He signed a one-day contract on May 30 to end his 10-year career as a Saint.)

Who is your favorite Saints Superfan?

“The Pope.”

A Local's Life: A Look at a Few Die-Hard Saints Fans

Madison Leavelle, "New" New Orleanian: 

Pressed into “Superfan-dom” since her internship in the Saints organization as a graphic designer. All those fantastic picture edits, kid coloring books, etc.? Yeah, that’s her.

What turned you into a Saints fan?

“Growing up in Alabama, there are only two major teams you pay attention to and that’s Alabama and Auburn. I never had a professional team that I followed (the closest being Atlanta professional sports, yuck). But once we started having a lot of Alabama players hit the NFL market, I was paying more attention to where they were going. While in school, Mark Ingram was one of my favorite players, so once he was drafted by the Saints in 2011, I started following the Saints. Plus, I had friends whom I visited in New Orleans from time to time, and once I fell in love with the city, I knew I had to be a Saints fan. The city sucks you in.”

How long ago was that?

“Mark Ingram was drafted in 2011, so I guess it’s been six years. Feels much longer than that!”

What is your most memorable experience?

“This past year, I was lucky enough to work with the New Orleans Saints as a graphic design intern. They asked me to help take pictures of fans on gameday in the Superdome. I had never been to a Saints game in person, only having watched them on TV, so my first game working there was INCREDIBLE. There's this feeling that you get when you walk out of the tunnel and onto the field that is just indescribable. I worked every home game, and that feeling never went away.”

Do you think Saints fans are the most dedicated?

“Oh, absolutely. I mean, I may be biased, but Who Dats are the most passionate fan base in the entire NFL. They love this team and this city. I’ve seen it firsthand in the Superdome on game days—these guys live and breathe this stuff. The entire mood of the city changes the week after a win or a loss, and I don't think most other places have that happen.”

What are your gameday traditions?

“This past year, my gameday tradition was getting up early and heading to the Superdome to work (though it never felt like work). But when I'm not working, I'm putting on my Mark Ingram t-shirt jersey and black and gold tutu, drinking one of those NFL team-themed Bud Lights (only time I ever drink Bud Light, but I'm superstitious and the Saints-themed cans are pretty), and holing up in one of my favorite bars (usually it’s Cooter Browns or the Holy Ground). My gameday traditions also involve A LOT of yelling. My resolution for this year is to actually make it down to Champions Square.”

 What is your favorite gameday food?

“Before the kitchen changed at Cooter Brown's, I used to always get their signature "Black and Gold Burger" after the first TD or score (did I mention I'm superstitious?), but now, it usually varies into whatever I'm feeling like that day.”

Do you have a favorite player?

“I really love all the players on the team, but I gotta give a shout-out to my 'Bama Boys: Mark Ingram and Roman Harper.” 

If you could have dinner with any Saints player/coach (dead or alive) who would it be?

“Man, this is hard. Have I mentioned my love for Mark Ingram enough yet? But I'd love to hang out with the entire Super Bowl-winning team.”

Who is your favorite Saints Superfan?

“I met a lot of the Superfans this past year working the games, and they are all so nice. Elvis even told me he loved my photography work. Jarrius Robertson has been an absolute rock star this year. He visits the training facility a good bit, so every time he comes by, it just brightens my day. He's a hoot!”

Are we going to win the Super Bowl in the next five years?

“Um ... WE BETTER WIN THE SUPER BOWL. I'm annoyingly optimistic.”

Do you have any funny/exciting/memorable Saints/New Orleans stories to add?

(Retracted due to incriminating work-related Christmas parties.) 


It may seem overwhelming the first time you see Saints fans en masse. Or, maybe you’ve lived here and never really caught the bug. If this is the case, try not to fight it. Treat it like everything else in New Orleans, and allow yourself to get swept up in the whole big mess. Yet always, always remember: when in doubt, yell “Who Dat” out! 

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