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?!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam