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Canal Street Spotlights: Daniel Harper

This week, we interview Daniel Harper, who talks about his Saints themed fan-cave, how he became a fan and more.

What is one of the most crucial components of sports atmospheres? The fans. The New Orleans Saints are notorious for having some of, if not the best fans in sports, packing Caesars Superdome every week and hitting noise levels barely comprehensible to human ears.

With that, we have decided to continue our new series called Canal Street Spotlights, in which we will interview Saints fans. This series hopes to give fans a chance to express themselves, explain why they became Saints fans in the first place, and relive some of their favorite moments. This week we had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel Harper about how he became a fan, what some of his favorite moments are, and getting to see images of his Saints-themed fan cave! So, without further ado, let us get right into the interview.

CSC: Please tell us a bit about yourself! We want to give you a chance to first give readers an idea of who you are, what you enjoy, etc.

Daniel: Hi my name is Daniel Harper I am a 40-something UK Saints fan based in London, who was clearly born on the wrong side of the Atlantic. When my family and I aren’t spending our vacation time traveling to the States, you’ll either find me smoking BBQ meats for my friends or entertaining them in my Saints fan cave bar. Husband to my very patent wife, Nicole, and proud father of 2.5 children. (.5 being our French Bulldog, Bleaux). Along my with good friend Michael, I also recently started a podcast for, and about, international Saints fans, and lovers of New Orleans, called The Saints, the City and Me.

CSC: How did you first become a Saints fan? Did you somewhat inherit it through your family/region you live in, or is there another story behind it?

Daniel: So I’d spent a lot of time watching NFL in the early 2000s and I wanted to have my own team. Obviously being from the UK we don’t have any NFL teams, and it was really important to me not to be a glory hunter and support a team like the Patriots, the Cowboys, or the Dolphins, which is where you get the bulk of the fan base in the UK. So there wasn’t any obvious team for me to follow, however, me and my wife travel to the US quite a lot and on this one particular trip, in I think late 2006, we were on a flight back home and I’d picked up a magazine at the airport which had a several page article around the return of the Saints to city, the impact of Katrina, drafting of Reggie Bush, and Drew signing as a free agent. None of these players meant anything to me, but the thing really shone through was the story of the city, the rebirth, and the resiliency of New Orleanians, and I decided at that point that this was going to be my team. I got home and ordered a Bush jersey and a copy of Madden, and I’ve been in love with the team and the city ever since.

CSC: What was your favorite moment to witness in Saints history? Either via TV or in person, feel free to do both if you’ve attended games!

Daniel: Aside from the Super Bowl… I will never forget the first time I walked into the dome. It was for the NFC Championship game against the Rams. What a feeling, even just as I was coming up with my ticket in my hand, I didn’t think it was real, to get to walk around champion square beforehand, soaking it all in. Then I get up at my seat and I look down watching the players warming up. The Who Dat chant sent shivers down my spine. Even though we lost, it was the most amazing, amazing feeling to finally get there and to be in the stadium.

Maybe a somewhat random memorable game for me was when the Saints came back to beat Washington in 2017. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for work, sitting in a bar surrounded by Panthers fans who are cheering on Washington all game and I was getting quite a lot of grief from them sitting there in my Saints T-shirt and cap and to be able to come back and win in overtime was such a satisfying feeling. I must have really puzzled them seeing this random British Who Dat screaming his head off in their hometown.

CSC: Do you have a favorite player/players of all time? If so who? Also, who are your favorites on the current roster?

Daniel: I think Drew is an obvious one for everyone, but I would say personally my favorite players are Marques Colston and in the current roster Demario Davis, or Cam Jordan. What a player The Quiet Storm was, so unfortunate for him that he played a time is so many great wide receivers and he never got to a Pro Bowl, he was just a fantastic player to watch. Then with Demario and Cam, just the energy they bring to the team, the passion, I would run through a brick wall after watching a Demario Davis pregame team huddle. Maybe somewhat of a trend here, but I can definitely see Pete Werner joining this list in the coming years as well.

CSC: When did you first start creating your fan cave? What are your favorite items you’ve collected over the years?

Daniel: I’d picked up a couple of bits of memorabilia during my first trip to New Orleans for the NFCCG but it just sat in a cupboard. However, later that year we moved home and there was a garage at the bottom of the garden, straight away I knew it was going to become my fan cave and that memorabilia was coming out, and this was before we’d even had an offer accepted on the property. From that point on I was in Saints collectibles mode, anything I could get my hands on from Amazon, Ebay, NFL Europe, everywhere.

My first big item was my signed Roman Harper jersey. I really wanted to get a signed jersey from one of the Super Bowl-winning players, and I actually reached out to a number of them on social media trying to see if I could find out if they knew where I could find a signed jersey and Roman was the only player that came back to me. Although he didn’t know where I could a jersey, it meant a lot he responded, and obviously, we share the same surname.

It was from that point on that I made a rule that the only players that got to go up on the cave wall had to have a ring. Amongst my favorite items are a signed Colston cleat, Taysom Helmet, and an AK end zone pylon. And this year I also managed to get an NFL blitz arcade which is absolutely amazing when the guys come over to watch football, and we all play it together. I just love heading down to the cave on a Sunday evening and watching the Saints, it makes me feel like I’m back in New Orleans when I’m down there.

Included below are the images of Daniel’s fan cave as previously mentioned!

Picture 1 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 2 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 3 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 4 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 5 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 6 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 7 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 8 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 9 of Daniel’s fan cave
Picture 10 of Daniel’s fan cave

Thank you again to Daniel for taking the time to chat with us and feel free for follow him at @Procrastinatus on social media.

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