It’s a fall Sunday morning. Game day. The Saints are playing at home in the Dome. I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth, and put in my contacts. Then I steep hot jasmine tea and make a breakfast burrito so that I have a good base for some serious day drinking.
If it’s a 3pm game, I will attend yoga at 11am, but if it’s a 12pm kickoff, I fore-go yoga and put on the same record while I get dressed. Dolly Parton. Second Harvest. It’s a great album with a killer version of Jackie Wilson’s hit "Higher and Higher." I have to hear that song before I leave the house or I just won’t feel right.
Next, I don black pants, black shoes, a limited edition Steve Gleason jersey, and a throw back Sir Saint ball cap. I always used to wear a current player jersey, but in the era of free agency and particularly following the Jimmy Graham trade (I had waited for him to sign his second contract before investing in a white jersey only for him to be traded the next year), I have decided to stop hoarding jerseys altogether. 8 jerseys isn’t at all excessive, right? Number 37 stands for all that is pure and true, and I can’t imagine wearing the number of another player I respect more on or off the field.
After drinking a tall glass of water, I hop on my bike and ride towards the Dome. I lock my bike to the same pole on the same corner every time, and bring one beer for the walk up to the gate. I walk up the same ramp and, after passing security, I begin my trek up the winding ramp to section 602. I stop at the same craft beer vendor and give them high fives before taking my seat, frosty beverage in tow.
As I approach my seat, I give a nod to the Mayor of 602. He’s our stoic leader who always keeps his cool. Then I wave to the Sheriff of 602. He’s our energetic leader. Every down on defense, he is standing tall, waving his arm in the air, and facing the rest of our section; never letting us sit on our laurels and always demanding we scream as loud as we can to aid the defense. I sit with my friends including several dancers, musicians, and singers, so we always sing the star-spangled banner together, and after every score, our 610 Stomper members dance to their original choreography of "Stand Up and Get Crunk."
Of course, after that, I’ve done all I can to set the tone, and I place my faith in my boys in black and gold. Saints fans have always been eclectic, ingenious, fun-loving, welcoming, and warm to those around them. But, Saints fans may also have some of the most diverse, interesting, and down right strange game day rituals of any NFL fan base. Some fans go to church before the games on Sundays. Some drink a specific type of bourbon. Some have to wear a certain outfit. Some have a specific meal they must ingest pre-game. The year we won the Super Bowl, I ate a PB and J before every game because I heard Drew Brees did the same. Some, like my friend Miss Gwen, wake up at 4am to park their car close to the Dome and begin setting up a hard core tailgating area complete with BBQ, coolers, easy-ups, and sound systems. No matter the ritual, one thing is for certain. When Saints fans think they have found the lucky charm, there’s no telling what lengths they will go to in order to bring that good juju.
Just writing this article has me psyched for this coming season, and like all the others before, my ritual will evolve. Some elements must remain, but every season has a distinct character to itself and therefore requires some distinctly new trends. I used to wear a black and gold Saints Elvis suit to EVERY game, home or away, and between 2007 and 2013, my suit racked up an undefeated 23-0 record. All good things must come to an end, however, and in 2014, the suit completely lost its juju. Now I only wear it for divisional games against the NFC South opponents.
So as my search continues for the perfect pre-game ritual, I would love to hear from you what rituals you have conjured up over the years. We have 3 more months until real football begins, but we can still have fun showing why Saints fans are some of the most hilarious and superstitious in the league.