Bravo Who Dat’s and pass the Grey Poupon

Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Growing up in the South, we try to teach our young ones manners, to say please and thank you, to respect our elders and generally be friendly to anyone we meet. That is our Southern hospitality inheritance.

Up North, and in metropolitan areas customary manners have sharper edges, it is still recommended to be polite, just more reserved and not as chatty as us country folk tend to be, to the point without flowery extras. That is the way things are and it works so let us not fix it.

However, there is a place where manners and civilized behavior have historically been left at the door and it is acceptable behavior to be rude, crude, and nasty… the NFL.

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If you can’t stomach screaming fans, vulgar slurs, and intense emotions then you might want to take in a game of tennis.

Unfortunately, the NFL has caved to the complaints of the few who view going to their favorite team’s game each week as sitting quietly while observing the smashing of superior athletic male bodies. Thus, leaving all the ill-will on the field.

But honestly, is that entertainment? Who has been to the Superdome and has not enjoyed the side show of Saints’ fans gone wild!

Before you get all prudish on me, I don’t encourage violence, but taunting an Atlanta Falcon fan can’t be considered bad behavior, especially when they return the favor when we are the traveling team. It is as natural as a Cajun eating crawfish. Aren’t we supposed to offend the Falcon fan? Wouldn’t he or she expect it? It is a part of their NFL experience!

Does the NFL only want to route out the really bad apples or are they trying to quench the passion of the football fan? To change the basic experience of a rowdy crowd of Saints’ fans?

Do we really need to clap when there is a great play, shout out, “Bravo!” and only go to the restroom when the quarter has ended? Do we drink tea and speak with a British accent with our pinky finger up in the air? Do we quietly accept the ridiculous call by a referee with taste and decorum? NO!

So what rules have the NFL imparted? The basic code of conduct for fans is refraining from behavior that is unruly, disruptive or illegal in nature; intoxication; foul or abusive language or obscene gestures; interference with the progress of the game (such as throwing items onto the field but it makes no mention of being so obscenely loud that it intentionally disrupts the other team’s cadence) and verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans.

Ok, I have been to a professional baseball game in Houston with a Chicago Cubs shirt and hat and was treated with friendly banter and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. But that was baseball, this is FOOTBALL. People get crazy about their football team whether professional or collegiate. Don’t believe me, just check out your average LSU fan and I rest my case.

In New Orleans, the order of the day is raucous behavior. It’s generally harmless, but there are always those few who take it too far and they are handled. Don’t punish the masses for a couple of idiots.

There is a difference in manners which are un-enforced standards, which makes one appear cultured and polished and a code of conduct which is a binding expectation of members of a particular group. We have manners in day to day life but we conduct ourselves accordingly at a Saints’ game.

Does anyone on the field say “Pardon me,” after they have tackled, sacked, or mangled the opposing team?

The NFL now expects good behavior by fans so that all can enjoy a positive experience. The key word… enjoyment.

If you have been to a New Orleans Saints’ game, have you ever taken an inventory of those who weren’t drinking, loud, and obscene? What will they do if the majority of the crowd is misbehaving? Can the league exist without their seats being filled?

The punishment for breaking the new rules state ejection from the stadium, loss of tickets and banishment from future games. Ok, that pretty much wipes out New Orleans ability to support their team, because the stands will be mostly empty. Crickets will be louder than the crowd if the punishment is exacted.

Unless you use the rules to work for you instead of against you! If all the teams take up the same procedure that Miami has put into place, we could have some real fun. The Dolphins will introduce a hotline where fans can text-message security from their stadium seats to report bad fans and their seat numbers. Great!

The plan to rid the other teams of their adoring fans can begin. We start at our home game by focusing in on the other team’s seats. We begin a campaign of reporting every Falcon, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Cowboy fan and have them ejected from the game and future games. Then, we take on our rival team’s stadiums and investigate their seating arrangements and during game day, we can sit at home and report one by one all their teams’ fans as unruly, disruptive, and offensive. Thereby eliminating the fan base! Their crime? They offended us by being a fan of another team.

Basically, we tattle. It is a brilliant plan.

So what are we to do with all our fun loving, passionate Saints’ fans who like to hit the sauce and watch their team while they escape the harsh reality of living in post-Katrina New Orleans? Should we take away the one thing that brings them such joy because they are fervent for their team? FANatical for their Saints?

Should we be proper fans? Polite and well behaved?

Should the NFL lighten up the rules and create ones like: Refrain from pouring your expensive bud light on your neighbor unless the neighbor asks you to. Refrain from throwing items onto the field because in your slurred state you might hit Drew Brees or Reggie Bush. Please refrain from getting falling down drunk and try to stay at smashed face drunk. Do not make obscene gestures towards cameras and children under ten. When taunting the opposing team, please keep insults to the party at hand and not their dear innocent mother. (Fathers are acceptable.) Inflatable referees will be on hand for abuse when the need occurs.

Why is the NFL so concentrated on the fans when the players need their own code of conduct? The outrageous behavior is not only on the field these days, but outside as well. With arrests, DUI’s, and bad behavior off the field the NFL should have their hands busy managing players and not fans.

Whatever the code, it will not douse the fires of true Saint’s fans, but when after all these years we finally have something to be excited about, why now do they want us to be good? Could it be a conspiracy?

Cheerio and Bravo to the Who Dats for coming up with a victory this week!! Now, go and be nice and beat up those Redskins this week. EXCUUUSE ME!

Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at