If the fans of the New Orleans Saints ever come to Minnesota for an NFC championship game, people of Minnesota, you've got your work cut out for you.
"How are we treating you," is the most often-asked question by people dressed in gold-and-black. That's after they yell, "Who Dat?"
As the NFC championship game approached, it wasn't hard to find Saints fans embracing their Vikings counterparts. This is, of course, a city that knows how to party.
That earned Trey Miller of Orlanda, Florida a plate of ribs from a Saints fan (see picture above).
"Bud Grant was the spitting image of my dad and I've been a fan ever since," he said of his 42 years of following the Vikings. "I love these people; they are so much fun. There's nothing compares to New Orleans. They're just so nice. They want their team to win just like I want my team to win, but there's no animosity." He says if the Saints win, "I'll be happy for them." (Listen)
That video tells you everything about the atmosphere before today's game. These aren't people living through their football team. This is a football team living through its people.
At another tailgate party nearby, a DJ plays "don't worry; everything will be alright," and somehow it feels as though the Saints fans will get over it, if they lose to the Vikings.
They even have a soft spot for Don Dahlke of Carver, Minnesota, an elderly gent who proudly proclaims he's been to every Vikings Super Bowl loss. "I'm a diehard, the problem is it's hard for me to be optimistic. When you get older and you've been through all these games and they've let us down, but I've got hope this time," he said.
A passing Saints fan who heard that and yelled, "Welcome to New Orleans!"
"The city of New Orleans has been nothing but phenomenal to us," said Spike, who also goes by the name Greg Michael Hofstrand when he's in Watkins Crosby, Minnesota. "They've represented their team and their city well. The way they rebuilt this city and the way this team has rebuilt themselves, I give nothing but respect to the New Orleans Saints."
If there was one complaint about the city, it's on the subject of tailgating. "It's worse than the Metrodome," said Richard Schmidthuber of Le Center, who's in one of the pictures below but didn't want his real name used with his image. "They have to tailgate under bridges here," he said. (Listen)
Here are more images from the streets of New Orleans before gametime:
Minnesota nice doesn't come close to the kind of hospitality found in the south. Nicer weathers seems to make people a tad bit easier going!
loved the tail gating dance!
Bob, you captured it all very well. We had a great day. Suncountry really did a nice job with the down and back charter, the weather was a treat, and the locals were very hospitable. ( Other than some on the plane who got ripped off by counterfeit ticket sellers anyway. ) But if I never hear "Who Dat" again it will be too soon!
Bob, fantastic work, and a great article! I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me in the fair city of New Orleans. I am, however, a little disappointed that you got my first name, and the city i reside incorrect. I was with a gentleman named Greg, who is from Watkins, MN. However, my name is actually Michael. I do go by Spike, when living in Crosby, MN. Not too big of a deal, just thought I would relay the information, albeit after the fact. Thanks again!