The Boys in Black and Gold
This has been a banner year for the Boys in Black and Gold. With a regular season record of 13-3, they are the number one seed in the NFC headed into the playoffs. Meaning that the Saints will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 2018 season has been reminiscent of that magical 2009 season when the Saints went on in 2010 to win its first Super Bowl in franchise history.
This year the team is still being led by Head Coach Sean Payton and future Hall of Fame Quarterback Drew Brees. Many observers are saying the Saints are arguably the best team in the NFL and are predicting they will make it this year to Atlanta to the Super Bowl.
Unlike recent years, they are doing it on both sides of the ball where their offense continues to be virtually unstoppable at putting points up on the scoreboard. Also, this year, the Saints’ defense has been stellar, led by all-pro defensive lineman Cam Jordan. This year the team has the balance they need to win against any opponent as evidenced by them defeating many of the best teams in the league including last year’s Super Bowl Champion the Philadelphia Eagles, who they will also face in this year first round of the playoffs.
Saints and the Sounds of a People
As a city with many amazing traditions and festivals that bring the city together, football season and the Saints games bring people together for the usual recipe for a New Orleans party. Good food, great music and amazing people. Bo Dollis Jr., Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias and son of legendary Big Chief, the late Bo Dollis said, “It is amazing how the Saints bring so many people from different backgrounds together to support the team. In these moments we are all one. People laughing, talking, second-lining, our fans are like no other because being from New Orleans we have so much pride in our city.” He continued, “I am a diehard fan; even during our worse seasons when we were wearing bags on our heads. I am glad to see them winning this year and I am glad to see them going this far; I am proud of them whether or not they win the Super Bowl this year.”
Local Anthems Keeping People Dancing
Over the years many local artists have written Saints anthems. In every genre there have been songs that have kept the ‘Who Dat Nation’ dancing. One artist that’s carrying on this tradition is local rapper 5 Star Hero, whose song “They Ain’t Ready” is being played on local radio and being shared by Saints fans nationwide on social media.
“I was inspired to write both of my songs “They Ain’t Ready Part 1 & 2” after being a fan for many years and watching the energy in the Dome just fade off after years and years of stand up and get crunch. So, I felt the city needed something more original and the fans worldwide would appreciate it,” says 5 Star Hero.
Speaking of the Saints and what they mean beyond what they do on the gridiron he says, “What the Saints mean to me is pretty much everything. It’s my human nature it’s all around me born and raised since a young boy I’ve always been a fan. They help connect the people in my city and bring us closer together.”
The Fleur De Lis: Bigger than Football It is a Symbol of Local Identity
For New Orleans, the Saints and the Fleur De Lis that is emblazoned on their helmet symbolizes not only the football team, but local identity. Yadira Pagan is an educator teaching (ESL) English as a Second Language and is a Saints fan and advocate for a better New Orleans.
“The Saints bring us together when nothing else can. We stand as one even when all is lost.” Speaking of the team and their importance to this city, its economy and as a symbol of its recovery she says, “After Hurricane Katrina we fought to keep them here because we’d lost enough,” she says speaking of the larger social impact of the Black and Gold that goes beyond what they do on the field.
Black and Gold: A Family Affair
While many in the city catch the games on TV, there is nothing like going to a Saints game. Inside the Superdome it is like no other stadium and the crowd that cheers on their team is like no other in the NFL. Mark Romig, who is the President of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) is carrying on the tradition set by his late father Jerry Romig, as the voice of the Saints during home games. “Being the Stadium Announcer for the New Orleans Saints is an honor, and a unique and wonderful experience. My role model has been my dad, Jerry, who passed away in December of 2015. Dad performed in this role for 44 years including 446 consecutive games. He started when the Saints played at Tulane Stadium. Dad never missed a home game as Stadium Announcer, even during the Katrina year when the Saints played their “home” games away.”
In the Romig household black and gold is a year-round affair. “Like my mom says, there are two seasons in the Romig family…Saints season and waiting for Saints season. The Saints are an integral part of our family’s history, and it is a joy and privilege to play just a small part in this wonderful story. The experience is truly a family affair. My brother Jay is a full time, member of the Saints staff, now the longest serving employee of the Saints (42 years). He is the Saints’ Administrative Director and also works the scoreboard in house controls during game days. My sister Mary Beth is in her 26th year as a “spotter”, which is one (of two people) who observes action on the field and confirms what occurred so that I can be as accurate as possible in announcing to the stadium.”
Saints, Second-lining, Benson Boogie and a Better New Orleans
While this has been an amazing year for the Saints in this historic year, it is the first year without the colorful team owner Tom Benson and his boogie on the sideline after a Saints win. Benson passed away last year. During his home going, there were people from all backgrounds throughout the city who paid homage to him as if he were a head of state. In some ways, he was as part of an organization that has done more to brand the city and bring people together. The Saints and the Fleur De Lis means not just football but represents a people and a way of life that is resilient, alive and vibrant.
It is this indomitable spirit, now more than three centuries old, that leads the people of this city, to find every reason to celebrate and put its local pride on full display. And once again this is the case, as Saints fever is in the air. Those New Orleanians who bleed Black and Gold, hope for a repeat of the “miracle season” when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. A victory that was much larger than what happened on the field but was a triumph for the entire city.
This sentiment is echoed by Mark Romig, “The Saints, in my opinion, have become a unifying factor across all neighborhoods and people. The Saints are a major point of pride. The Saints mirror the passion of our citizens. The Saints are the glue that helps hold us together as a city of people who truly care for each other, no matter where you come from or who you are. We are all Saints fans. It is always Saints season in New Orleans.”