I recently took a trip to New Orleans to go on a cruise with my wife for our honeymoon. I had chosen New Orleans as our preferred place to board our ship because I wanted to get a look at the city and learn more about the people, the culture and some of the exciting things that it had to offer.
We traveled to New Orleans the Friday prior to the NFC Championship Game (putting the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers) and I was determined to wear my Chicago Bears gear both in New Orleans and on the cruise. I am proud of being a Bears fan and being associated to the team, so I wasn’t afraid to wear the colors. I was interested in the kind of reaction that I would get. What I got wasn’t what I expected.
Had it been other places I have been to, I would have gotten a negative reaction wearing another team’s colors in another NFL city. It’s happened to me before and I expected it to happen again, but it didn’t.
Not one single person wished the Bears ill will in their game against the Packers, and every single person that commented wished for the Bears to win the game. I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a single negative comment about the Bears and everyone that said something wished them well in the NFC Championship Game.
There was something else that I noticed about the people of New Orleans and their affinity for their hometown team, the New Orleans Saints. Almost everywhere you turned, there were people wearing New Orleans Saints shirts, caps, earrings, jackets and so on. Fans were everywhere.
Waitresses and waiters sported some kind of Saints item, clerks and cashiers did also as did members of our hotel’s staff. Stores were stocked with New Orleans Saints merchandise with everything from clothing to key chains to books and much more. Even the milk bottle caps had a little Saints player on them. There are a ton of geniuses marketing the team at each and every turn.
This kind of support for an NFL team is something that I haven’t seen in the 20-plus NFL cities that I have visited in my lifetime. The kind of support that the New Orleans Saints fans who live and work in the area give is something that I have never seen.
And the people there talk about their team all the time. Whether it was in a restaurant listening to the staff talk about Drew Brees or in the airport listening to some airport employees talk about what Pierre Thomas looked like, there was talk about the Saints all around. There was never anything negative said.
So I would like to thank the fans of the New Orleans Saints for making a Bears fan feel comfortable in a town that he was not familiar with. I really enjoyed your hospitality, the many discussions that I had with your fans and how your city treats the New Orleans Saints.