The NFL makes me angry

I was appalled today. I was appalled to learn that small business owners (particularly t-shirt shops and the like) in New Orleans have been receiving cease and desist letters from the NFL. Why you ask? Oh please. Let me enlighten you.

Apparently, the NFL says that the use of the words “Who Dat” and the black and gold fleur de lis are trademark infringements. I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?

I haven’t even been living here that long and this makes me so angry. I can’t even imagine the anger swirling around inside those who have been New Orleans Saints fans since the team’s inception in the late 1960s.

I will go ahead and let everyone know that I AM a Saints fan and not just because they are headed to Miami. I never paid much attention to the NFL teams when I lived in California. Growing up, I watched games but never felt akin to any particular team–certainly not the Oakland Raiders, as I’m still bitter about not getting to play certain PE games during gym in middle school because they were using the field for a practice facility. My family, for the most part, were San Francisco 49er fans (there were multiple Halloweens in which my brother donned a red #16 jersey and a gold helmet) but I never followed them closely.

Then I moved to New Orleans in the middle of the season last year and quickly learned that New Orleans (and I think it safe to say the South in general) takes their football very seriously. I went to my first Saints game on December 7, 2008 when they played the Atlanta Falcons in the Superdome and I admit it. I was hooked. The atmosphere was astounding. People who had never met bonded over this team. My last day of work at the winery, I received a black t-shirt with a gold fleur de lis on it and was informed it was mandatory attire and I quickly learned this to be true and anyone wearing black and gold was a friend.

I sat on the edge of my seat (when I was even sitting at all) at the neck-and-neck contest. NFC Championship hero Garrett Hartley knocked down a field goal just as the first half was ending to put the Saints up 16-14. Atlanta went up again on a FG of their own before the teams traded touchdowns and the Falcons were up 25-22 late in the game. Reggie Bush returned a kickoff to the Falcons 15-yard line and then Pierre Thomas found the end zone from five yards out to give New Orleans the eventual win and it was exhilarating. But more than that, I watched, almost as though watching threw a window, the entire city celebrate. It was like watching proud parents revel in their child’s victory. I am a fan of the New Orleans Saints because of the passion that they ignite in their fans and how a single sports team can unify a city. I am a fan of any team that can do that, though the Saints are the only team to which I have been exposed that have mastered the art.

And now. The NFL is trying to dampen the celebration and break the spirit of the loyal Saints fans? I’m thoroughly disgusted by them. This article was posted on a local news website this afternoon and gives a little more news weight than just my rant. (Which, fair warning, I’m about to continue below.)

You do not own the rights to the words “Who Dat”, National Football League. Nor do you own the rights to the fleur de lis. It’s a symbol of the entire city and, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing France might have a bone to pick with you for suggesting such a thing, seeing as how it’s a symbol of the French monarchy that *I’m pretty sure* was established before you.

Not to mention the fact that if this was something of a subject of concern to the NFL, they should have taken it up with the Who Dat Nation years ago (read: when the Saints weren’t winning). Just where exactly do they get off claiming it belongs to the NFL now?


At the time of this post, the Facebook group ‘Hey NFL! Keep your hands off of WHO DAT & the Fleur de Lis!’ already had 5,895 members and counting. And I will tell you one other thing I have learned about living in New Orleans: the more you try and break them, the more strength the city finds and the more united the people become. I know this to be true and I’m not even from around here.

3 comments on “The NFL makes me angry

  1. Technically, the Saints could trademark their logo of a gold fleur de lis in their exact PMS color with a black stroke of X thickness, then a white stroke of X thickness…. if the trademark office let them. But they might not be able to. The copyright/TM office might laugh and say “that’s universal symbol, you can’t trademark it alone. You’d have to add New Orleans Saints to it, or something.”

    So, nothing would prevent anyone from making a black shirt, with a gold fleur de lis.

    They could also trademark the phrase “Who Dat?” or “Who Dat Nation” much like NCAA has trademarked “March Madness.”

    Long story short, people are making money off the image of the Saints, and that’s not right. If I started selling “Colleen LeMasters DOT COM” t-shirts, you should get a cut.

  2. OK, so lemme ask you this then. The Ying Yang Twins song ‘Stand Up and Get Crunk’ has also become something associated with Saints football. Does the NFL get trademark rights to that because it’s something that (in New Orleans) is becoming synonymous with Saints football? Because the Ying Yang Twins management probably could wage a good fight. I’m just sayin’…

  3. I agree Colleen… I mean yes I see the point of the previous responder, however, the idea of suddenly trademarking it after it has already been established seems a little money hungry. Not to mention the phrase alone was not created by the NFL but by the fans. How can you trademark what is not yours? With this rationale couldn’t the various citizens of N.O. who adopted the “Who Dat?” phrasing require a cut from all proceeds of merchandise reflecting it? I’m just saying…at what point do people stop nickel and diming. What happened to the game being about the fans and the actual game?

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