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Story Archives: Local fans sound 'Who Dat' battle cry
|Local fans sound 'Who Dat' battle cry|
Faithful fans in Franklin Parish who have suffered through decades of losing seasons are now able to hold their heads high and declare that hell has frozen over—the New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl.
Some, like Rene Southern of Wisner, never hid their faces in shame under brown paper bags and instead wore their black and gold proudly in the hopes that one day their steadfast support of the team would eventually pay off.
That day came Sunday when the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.
"It was the most awesome feeling there is, besides having my three kids," said Southern, who watched the Saints' victory in the First Pentecostal Church's gymnasium.
"Everybody was jumping up and down and giving high-fives to each other , even to people they didn't know," said Southern.
Southern is such a die-hard fan that she named one of her children after former Saints running back, Dalton Hilliard.
She was sorry her husband Craig Southern wasn't by her side to cheer the Saints in the Super Bowl. He is training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi to deploy to Iraq with the Alexandria-based 256th Infantry Brigade Army National Guard Unit. She said they kept in touch during the game by text messaging on cellular telephones, however, and he called as soon as the Saints won to help her revel in the victory.
"He called and said 'Can you believe our Saints actually won the Super Bowl?'," Southern said.
While the news is hard to believe, Southern was expecting the Saints to win and was cheering them on last Friday at a pep rally at Franklin Medical Center. She brought several Saints' jerseys to outfit others who were at the event to root for the team.
A group of fans gathered outside the hospital at the pep rally, holding Saints signs while chanting "Who Dat." Local street crooner Willie B. Green was on hand with his guitar to play "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the crowd sang along.
It took more than four decades, but the long wait has been worth it for some Saints fans, like Southern.
"Now that we have won, maybe the commentators will quit asking if we are for real. We are for real," Southern said.
Larry Shappley, a respiratory therapist at Franklin Medical, said he has been a Saints fan since the franchise began in 1966 and was happy to see them finally make it to the Super Bowl.
"It's great to see the enthusiasm in our state," he said. "Our state has been kicked down all the time and I would like nothing more than to see them win the Super Bowl."
Sportscaster Regnal Wallace, host of "'Round Franklin with Regnal Wallace" on KMAR 95.9 FM, is another fan who has been following the Saints since the beginning.
He said he is one of the last sportscasters still working who was there when the Saints started.
Wallace fondly remembers interviewing Tom Fears, the Saints first coach, along with players Paul Hornung and Obert Logan, on television at KALB Channel 5 in Alexandria when they were traveling around Louisiana during a campaign to introduce the state to the team.
"We talked about the importance of the Saints and what it would mean to Louisiana and the difficulty of starting a new franchise and winning games ... perhaps even the Super Bowl." he said.