Saints fans rally

Published 10:32 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

With the uncertainty of the 2012 NFL season hanging over like a dark rain cloud, it came as no surprise that many locals showed up at Paw Paw’s Campers and Cars Thursday to participate in WWL’s “We Want Pro Football” campaign.

Thursday’s show was the third which WWL has put on in the New Orleans market.

Fans began pouring in early to eat some hamburgers and hotdogs, get autographs, and listen to the show hosted by Deke Bellavia, and former Saints Quarterback Bobby Hebert.

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Barry Harper, the general manager of Paw Paw’s Campers and Cars, said it was an honor to be able to host the show.

“WWL approached us, and we accepted,” Harper said. “When you can get a celebrity like Bobby Hebert here, it’s special. It’s a very exciting day for all Saints fans in Picayune and Pearl River County.

Bellavia said that it’s obvious to him, that football and the New Orleans Saints is more than just a game to the people of Picayune.

“When you walk in the door, and see a group of people like this, you know it more than just a game,” Bellavia said. “The Saints and the NFL does a lot for the morale of the community.”

He said WWL is encouraging fans to sign a petition, either in person or online, telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell that fans want football.

Henley Field resident Jeremy Mitchell said the Sanits are a family tradition for him, and he hopes there will be a 2011 season.

“Ever since I was young, we have always followed the Saints,” Mitchell said. “Every Sunday, my dad or grandparents have the family over. It’s a good time. I hope to pass it on to my son.”

Grant Tingstrom said he drove all the way from Bay St. Louis to be a part of the “We Want Pro Football” campaign.

“I listen to Deke and Bobby all the time,” Tingstrom said. “I guess I’m an old school Who Dat. I just wanted to come up here and show my support.”

Hebert said the recent talks in the NFL labor situation are a good sign that a full season may still be played this year.

“How can you kill the goose that laid the golden egg?” Hebert asked. “I hope the owners and players can come to an agreement. I was encouraged Wednesday when the commissioner came out and said the ownership is committed to having a full season. This is what the fans want. We want pro football.”

As part of the campaign, fans were given free t-shirts which were signed by Bellavia or Hebert.

Picayune resident Lucia Hinton summed up the event for all of the fans in attendance.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “I’m a big Saints fan. Who Dat!”