Keep It 100: Hold up NFL, Saints FANS Own “Who Dat!”

By: Julian Ross

The New Orleans Saints going to their first ever Super Bowl has caused a lot of things to happen. Hell is currently freezing over and don’t be too surprised if Pork wings get added to the soul food menu once people start shooting down the newly flying pigs. It has also caused the NFL to FINALLY pay attention to some of the most loyal fans in sports history and try to make a cash grab from a depression and Katrina-stricken economy. All of a sudden, the NFL claims they own the phrase “Who Dat” and have sent cease-and-desist letters to many local T-shirt vendors.

3…2…1… <Rant>

(videos behind the jump)

The Saints have been around since 1967. They ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and have been famously terrible for most of their existence since. In fact the first time we (I’m a die-hard fan) didn’t have a losing season was in 1979. At this point, the phrase “Who Dat” had already been floating around since the 1800’s, where it was used in minstrel shows, and the chant “Who dat say they gon beat dem (TEAM MASCOT HERE)” was already in use in New Orleans’ area high schools. During the 1983 season (the Saints second non-terrible season) the team adopted the popular fan saying of “Who dat say they gon beat them Saints!” as a group of Saints players along with New Orleans native Aaron Neville and local musicians Sal and Steve Monistere and Carlo Nuccio, performed “When The Saints Go Marching In.” (See below) Since then, Who Dat has been in heavy use by Saints fans.

This in 1983

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So 26 seasons later, when the impossible happened and the Saints aren’t the laughingstock of the NFL, they want to come down and pull this mess. Not only do they claim to own the phrase, but also the colors black and gold and the Fleur de Lis, which by the way was on the French flag in the 1500’s, so was probably around before that. All of this to stop local entrepreneurs from making a few dollars from T-shirts and other gear. The worst part is they do it in the name of “…not confusing fans who want to support the Saints.” That is probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

This is now

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I think the thing that gets me so upset about all this isn’t the just that the NFL has no way they can claim ownership to a fan made song, but the timing. The chant was around in the 80’s and no one cared. Who dat bumper stickers, shirts, hats, glassware, and just about anything else you can think of all existed, and no one cared. The city gets nearly washed away, and the team’s resurgence in 2006 creates the “Who Dat Nation,” as Saints fans scattered all over the country and again no one  cared. Now, the same loyal fans that have fought to keep their team in a city that was thought to be dead and unfit for business post-Katrina, and fought are fighting to rebuild their houses, businesses and lives are being attacked over some pretty petty stuff , as the team they love is finally something to be proud of.

I think it is a terribly unclassy move by the NFL and the original musician, who now also stakes claims on the phrase, to be battling over who owns Who Dat. It’s completely against the camaraderie the chant and the team inspire. I was in that number this past Sunday when the Saints secured their spot in this year’s Super Bowl. I saw a city that is so often divided by race, status, parishes and wards, all come together to celebrate the Saints. Black, white, young and old all jumped up and down, hugging and crying. All 75,000 people in the Louisiana Super Dome simultaneously chanting “Who dat say they gon beat them Saints!” How dare the NFL or anyone else try to take that away from us? Especially when it’s finally our time to shine.



Last embedded video, promise. This is the French Quarter as the game ends and the celebration begins.

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This video shows how ALL walks of life get behind the Saints. Where they are dancing in the street (Franklin Ave), was covered with 8ft of water 4 years ago. Now look at em 🙂 – We Made History!

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  1. WHO DAD WHO DAT? Love me some saints.. I cannot WAIT till next Sunday.. should be a great game!

  2. Yes, it all started with me. There’s a whole lot more to the story. Want to here?

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