You'd love to believe that Super Bowl LI's matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons would produce a unanimous choice on who to root for. However, New Orleans Saints fans are divided right now. That's right, members of Who Dat Nation are conflicted in picking a winner for the biggest sporting event of the year.
How is this even possible? The noted NFC South rivalry holds a distinct line in the sand between these two franchises. The hatred between the two teams goes back a long ways, but has increasingly caught the attention of the national spotlight since 2006. Since then, the Saints have had the upper hand, holding a 15-7 advantage. But let's be honest for a moment, no one other than the Falcons and Saints gave a crap about this 'rivalry' up until then. Case in point, these two have met a total of 11 times in prime time settings, but only once pre-2005 (1992).
Of course, Saints fans will be quick to point out the team's 13-3 run up until 2014. However, Falcons fans will counter with being winners of four out of the past six matchups, which have included sweeps in 2014 and 2016. For the seasoned fan, the all-time series favors the Falcons 51-45, with one meeting occurring in the 1991 playoffs where Atlanta won.
The end-all, be-all for Saints fans that puts a stamp on the discussion is the franchise's lone Lombardi Trophy from the 2009 season. Naturally, the Falcons have a chance to alter that, but where do fans honestly get off rooting for Atlanta?
Reasons why the Saints and their fans hate the Falcons
Perhaps the biggest reason Saints fans absolutely can’t stand the Falcons lies in a very idiotic attempt to get laughs by an Atlanta radio station in 2013. This crude joke from 790 The Zone featured beloved icon Steve Gleason as the brunt, defaulting to robotic jokes made at his expense. The tasteless act certainly got laughs from the radio program, but the reality is that making fun of an individual suffering from a life-threatening disease isn't that funny. The irresponsible individuals were later fired, but just showed the 'class' of a Falcons fan base.
Naturally, you can't bring up the hatred between the Falcons and Saints without talking about Roddy White. It wasn't just one time either, but took off when comments were made about the Saints winning the Super Bowl. White said (verbatim which doesn't exist now), "The grace of god gave them tht championship so that city wouldn fall apart now and now they they hot shit in my chad voice child please."
Leading up to a 2012 meeting between the two in which the Saints eventually won, White appeared on NFL Network to talk more trash on New Orleans.
After losing, White still wouldn’t acknowledge the Saints. “It’s not like they came out here and just won the game, I kind of think we gave it away. We gave it to them. It was really nothing they did. It was everything we did and not cashing in on opportunities.”
You also can’t ignore the two franchises sharing players like Morten Andersen, Bobby Hebert, and Joe Horn. They've shared coaching lineage from Jim Mora and Jim Mora Jr., and Bum Phillips and Wade Phillips. It's a common showdown of two southern powers meeting when these two play.
In a nutshell, they say Bounty Gate, they say Noise Gate. Speaking of that, how hilarious is it that a fan base has to pipe in crowd noise because of their lackluster fans? There were tickets left to the team's opening division playoff game against the Seahawks, down to a mere $12 on StubHub before kickoff. They were even begged to arrive early to the stadium so it gave a 'full' appearance.
Bandwagon Game is Strong
Naturally, when a team like the Falcons gets into the Super Bowl, the bandwagon fills up. Similar to the Panthers last season, social media saw a major increase for Atlanta, particularly on Twitter. Prior to the season, Atlanta was sitting right over 820,000 followers. Now? It's over 1.2 million.
The same can be said on Facebook, but it holds a little more interest mainly because they lost some following over the years and then gained it back. Present day following has them at 1.96 million likes.
Love for the Pats
New England and New Orleans both share some commonalities. For starters, both teams have had their fair share of run-ins with commissioner Roger Goodell, and have been on the losing side of the coin. You can't mention either franchises' success without noting their head coaches (Sean Payton and Bill Belichick), nor can you overlook the stability at quarterback (Drew Brees and Tom Brady).
Honest fans thoughts
“I had a perfectly good Pat Swilling jersey destroyed in a fight with a Falcons fan.”
“I HATE Steve Bartkowski, Gerald Riggs, William Andrews, Alfred Jackson, Jessie Tuggle, Chuck Smith, Scott Case, Deion Sanders, Andre Rison, Jamal Anderson, Bert Emanuel, Jeff George, Roddy White, the fact Saints players left to play for the Falcons, the old logo, the new logo, the Red and Grey uniforms, the all-black uniforms, Jerry Glanville, the Dirty Bird, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, the Georgia Dome, the new stadium affectionately known as Megatron’s Butthole....and especially their cocky, obnoxious fans-both of them, prior to this season."
“I want a toilet seat covered with astroturf. The underside of the top lid with a team photo and down in the bowl, a Falcons 50-yard line logo."
“To even jokingly insinuate the Saints didn't absolutely earn a title is disrespecting those players that did it. How can these idiots not fathom why they aren't getting respect?"
“How can you be a die hard Saints fan and root for anything Atlanta?”
“Root for a tie. Root for your board. Hell, root for the commercials. Rooting for the Pigeons while alleging you’re a Saints fan is unacceptable.”
“Just look at how many new rap songs have come out on the Falcons this week. Like, dude, where were you at before this?”
"Even if the Pats cheat again and the Failcons lose, that would make ATL's fanbase even more bitter. The more misery the Failcons have, the better."