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?!
September's $509 million in sales pushed Lafayette Parish's nine-month total to $4.4 billion.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has punted on its first chance to decide whether a new state constitutional provision declaring gun possession a fundamental right could void a long list of criminal statutes that regulate firearms.
New Orleans' offense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, isn't helping many of its skill players pile up Pro Bowl-type stats. Rather, the approach of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees has enabled a wide range of play-makers to emerge periodically with high-production outings.
An ordinance phasing out a rebate businesses receive for collecting and remitting sales taxes is tabled, but it doesn’t solve the vexing issue of government revenue.
From jewelry to home goods, deals abound
Forgiving shapes for NOLA Bowl
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, December 12, 2013:
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.