Enough already! Players call it the No Fun League because of the $5,000 fines levied for such egregious infractions as droopy socks and untucked jerseys. Who Dat Nation got a taste of the real NFL — a corporate behemoth that fiercely guards its image — last week when the Goliath mailed letters to some New Orleans Davids warning them to cease and desist selling merchandise with “Who Dat” and fleurs-de-lis on it because it violates the NFL’s trademark. C’est what? You want to piss off Saints fans? Tell them they can’t have fun.
Since then, the now-well-known response from partisans of the NFL’s New Orleans franchise has been deafening, a reverberate “Who Dat!” punctuated with a middle-finger exclamation point.
The NFL’s bullying of a French Quarter T-shirt shop owner earned brief mention last week by the Associated Press. But it quickly cascaded into a crescendo of outrage by fans who rightfully feel the phrase belongs to them. Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Charlie Melancon and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell suited up for the home team. It even inspired a Facebook petition letting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell know exactly who and precisely where he can stick dat.
The phrase was first widely used in New Orleans in 1983 after Aaron Neville released a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” featuring the now familiar chant over a second-line beat. It quickly became an unofficial part of the Saints brand. Presumably the song was released around the mid point in the season when the Saints were 5-3 — a extraordinary record for a hard-luck team, which finished 8-8 that year.
The expression “Who Dat” actually goes back to late 18th century minstrel songs. If that doesn’t establish its residency in the public domain, what does? Even the Cincinnati Bengals do their own version of the “Who Dat” chant. Badly. Like people over 40 using lol in an e-mail.
But the controversy certainly raises trademark and branding issues that the NFL could probably win if the league had the stamina and committed the resources to pressing its case in court. There’s no doubt that the words “Who Dat” and a fleur-de-lis in gold on a black T-shirt means New Orleans Saints. What else could it mean? It’s part of the Saints brand, and the New Orleans Saints are owned by the NFL. But the producers who released the Neville song also say they own the phrase; their company is called WhoDat Inc. They’ve also pressed merchants to cease and desist, though understandably with a fainter blitz than the NFL.
The No Fun League couldn’t win this one, and it understandably backed off. The expression is too ubiquitous, embraced by too many, and the team doesn’t seem to have a problem with its use by fans and local merchants alike. Neither, apparently, did the NFL for most of 27 years. It wasn’t until the Saints earned a Super Bowl berth that the league got prickly about “Who Dat.”
And speaking of the Super Bowl, it’s perfectly fine for me to use the term in this column, which is part of the editorial side of The Independent Weekly. But forget about it in advertising. Last week the Louisiana Press Association reminded members that the NFL owns the trademark to “Super Bowl” and the term is off-limits for advertising. Consequently, our production staff had to notify at least two clients that they can’t use “Super Bowl” in an ad. So, in these pages, you can find great deals on “Super Snacks” and be directed to a “Big Game Party” at a downtown club. I’m certain the latter is not a celebration of felling elephants and rhinoceroses with high-caliber rifles.
Hey NFL, who dat?!
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
See which events are taking place during INNOV8 Lafayette this Friday, April 25.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lisa Boudreaux come and get your goodies.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
Jefferson Street restaurant and pub debuts during Festival with limited menu.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
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Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
See which events are taking place during INNOV8 Lafayette this Thursday.
It’s on, y’all. Fest fIND, our annual Festival International de Louisiana reader contest, is now accepting photo submissions.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
Fashion and music make great bedfellows
Producers, manufacturers, restaurants and chefs host roundtable and tasting
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
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Newsy bits for the whole fam
Don't forget: our annual Festival International contest begins Thursday! Win. Cool. Stuff.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.