Your job isn’t over yet, Who Dat Nation

By Mike Scott

So the Los Angeles Rams have a fake NFC Championship to go with their fake tans. That’s the disappointing reality New Orleans Saints fans must live with after Sunday’s blatant no-call on an obvious pass interference penalty that would have all but salted the game away for the black and gold.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) is pushed by Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) late in regulation for an incomplete pass attempt during the NFC championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)

It’s unfortunate. It’s unexplainable. It’s inexcusable. But, most of all, it’s unchangeable.

There will be no rematch. There will be no league overrule. There will be no justice. There will only be a sham of a Super Bowl in Atlanta that will forever be asterisked in the eyes of Saints fans. Officially, it’s Super Bowl LIII, but in New Orleans it will go down as Super Bowl LIE.

After a season in which New Orleans’ twelfth man — that would be the leather-lunged Superdome crowd — played a key role in lifting their team, it was Los Angeles’ twelfth man — the officiating crew that made what is being called “the worst missed call in NFL history” — that decided how it would all end.

Although the season is over for the Saints, the job isn’t over for the Who Dat Nation. There’s nothing fans can do to change the outcome of Sunday’s game, but they can still send a loud and clear message to the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Here’s how: They can throw a party on Super Bowl Sunday — or a bunch of parties, really, all over the city, all over the country, wherever pockets of black-and-gold faithful call home. What they choose to do at those parties isn’t important. (Might I suggest a jazz funeral, for the NFL’s credibility?) It’s what they choose not to do that matters.

Specifically: No Saints fan worth his or her Creole seasoning should watch a second of Super Bowl LIE.

It’s not an empty gesture. As soon as Sunday’s Saints-Rams game ended, there were those who claimed it was rigged because the NFL was desperate to have a big-market team in the big game. But the truth is, while New Orleans is one of the smaller markets in the league, it consistently delivers higher ratings than most other NFL towns.

Fact: The last time the Saints played in the Super Bowl, in 2010′s Super Bowl XLIV, the game broke viewing records — all of them — becoming the most-watched televised event in American TV history to that point. (Yes, its ratings were even better than those for the season finale of “M*A*S*H*,” once seen as untouchable from a ratings standpoint.)

This year, Saints fans have delivered similarly impressive numbers on multiple occasions.

When the Saints played the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving night, that game became the NFL’s most-watched Thursday-night game since the 2017 season opener. In New Orleans, it earned a 52.3 rating, just shy of the 53 local rating earned by last year’s Super Bowl.

Then, a week later, the Saints’ game against the Dallas Cowboys became the most-watched Thursday-night game in NFL history. In New Orleans, it earned an eye-popping 58.5 overnight rating, the highest in any market for any NFL game to that point in the season — and, remarkably, better than local ratings for the Saints’ 2010 Super Bowl game.

And they weren’t done yet. On Dec. 17, when the Saints played the Carolina Panthers, local ratings were even higher, reaching 59.8, by far the best of all NFL markets.

Those kinds of numbers are insane. They’re also indicative of the kind of passion Saints fans carry around with them (and the kind of passion Rams fans will never have, it must be said).

Long story short: the Saints play in a small market, but that market still has muscle, delivering ratings on a big-market scale. And that’s the key point, because ratings mean money — and to the NFL, money means everything.

So, if the Who Dat Nation wants to send a message to the league office, their most effective tool isn’t some online petition that’s bound to fall on deaf ears. Their most effective tool is their remote control.

They need to turn off their TV. They need to boycott Super Bowl LIE. They need to deliver a 0.0 local rating for the big game.

And they need to rest their voices. They’re going to need them.

Saints season is just seven months away.

This story was originally published in January 2019 by | The Times-Picayune.

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