The Joker may have lost the war for Gotham’s soul, but he won the battle for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s stands.
Following a touchdown during Sunday’s overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham leaped into the stands to celebrate with the crowd. But one fan in the crowd — Scott McGowan, dressed as the Joker, Batman’s archnemesis — took that as an opportunity to grab the tight end’s backside.
Graham was not all that cool with the fan’s eagerness.
“That will probably be my last (leap) after getting groped up,” Graham said.
Speaking by telephone Friday, McGowan, a 44-year-old from Baton Rouge, said he meant no harm for an act that was captured by television and still cameras. He merely reached for what he called the only open spot he saw on Graham, who leads the Saints (4-5) in catches (56), receiving yards (594) and touchdown receptions (seven).
“I went for what I could grab,” McGowan said. “Everything else was taken, so I took what I could get.”
Added McGowan roguishly: “I officially know now that (Graham) is a tight end.”
No one could’ve anticipated Graham and McGowan were going to be immortalized in a looping video on irreverent sports website Deadspin and get countless people buzzing after the Saints star tight end hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass while being covered by 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox.
At first, it didn’t seem that Graham’s elation would cause him to jump into a section of spectators behind the Girod Street end zone. After scoring, he stepped beyond the right sideline and off the field of play, pointing at the crowd in that direction and pumping one of his arms.
But Graham suddenly cut left. Carrying the ball in his right hand, he rushed over to the stands and leaped into a throng of folks cheering the home team.
The one in the green Joker costume first patted Graham in the lower back with his left hand, enveloped in a black glove. Then he let the hand slide down, squeezed Graham’s right butt cheek — and didn’t let go for a few long seconds.
“It was a moment of the game, and I just wanted to go and thank all of the fans for being there,” said Graham, who used to punctuate touchdowns by dunking the football over the crossbar before having to abandon that this year because the NFL outlawed it as unsportsmanlike conduct. “But people were trying to thank me a little too much.”
McGowan, the co-owner of a pest and termite control business, admitted he’s been “getting nailed left and right” by people he knows for doing what he did. Oddly, he said, he also has gotten offers from people wishing to purchase the glove he had on when he seized a handful of Graham.
The razzing hasn’t bothered McGowan too much, but he did wish to direct a message at people who have dismissed him as a deviant because he dresses up like the Joker.
He started donning the costume after the 2008 release of “The Dark Knight,” a movie directed by Christopher Nolan that centers around Batman’s efforts to stop the Joker from terrorizing Gotham City.
Since then, the Saints have won their lone Super Bowl title, and they’ve been to the playoffs three more times.
“That,” McGowan said, “is why I do the Joker.”
The Joker is among a group of people who wear elaborate costumes to Saints games and are considered the team’s super fans.
McGowan is developing a deck of playing cards depicting those fans. He hopes to make them available around Champions Square in time for the Saints’ first game in December and donate any proceeds to a charity such as Team Gleason.
But that’s a bit away. Before that, Graham is set to be at the Superdome again this Sunday when the Bengals (5-3-1) visit the Saints.
So will the Joker.
“Same place,” McGowan said. “I never miss a game in our house.”
Advocate sportswriter Nick Underhill contributed to this report.