The phrase "Who Dat?" has been a rallying cry for the New Orleans Saints for years, especially over the course of last year’s Super Bowl Season. The entire phrase is actually, "Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?" While this was heard in bars, seen on shirts, and reproduced by NFL networks, the history of "Who Dat" extends far beyond football. The term actually dates back to the late 1800s when it was used in minstrel shows and vaudeville acts, before jazz musicians picked it up. While the phrase may have originated with minstrel show skits that portrayed African-Americans in a negative light, it has undoubtedly rallied the Saints Nation in a post Katrina city.
Once called the “Aint’s” because of their horrible play, the Saints finally had a winning season in 1983. Out of joy, soul singer Aaron Neville got seven Saints players together in a local studio and by combining “When The Saints Go Marching In” with this Who Dat? Chant, created the Who Dat phenomenon.
When my San Diego Chargers traded quarterback Drew Brees to the New Orleans Saints little did anyone know that Brees would arrive on the eve of arguably our country’s greatest natural disaster. While families sought refuge in the Super Dome (Where the Saints play) the Saints were trying to escape a record of losing seasons. After five years of rebuilding, for both the team and the city, the Saints made an epic and equally doubtful Super Bowl run.
The Saints (16-3) won three postseason games last winter after winning only two in the previous 42 years. They beat Arizona, Minnesota and Indianapolis (16-3 and all division winners) for their first title, scoring 107 points and allowing only 59. This put them up against the highly rated extremely favored Indianapolis Colts in Miami for Super Bowl 44. The Colt’s ace, Payton Manning got the Colts off to a quick start and had them in front for much of the game, but the New Orleans’ league-leading offense outscored The Colts 31-7 after falling behind 10-0. That matched the biggest comeback in a Super Bowl.
Saint’s Coach Sean Payton held the Vince Lombardi Trophy up high and ran into the end zone with several hundred fans chanting the Saint’s rally cry: “Who dat, who dat, who dat say gonna beat dem Saints?” “Everybody back in New Orleans gets a piece of this trophy,” Payton said.