A little less than a year ago, the mayor of Minneapolis recorded a video welcoming the Super Bowl contenders to town. It was, as CBS Sports put it, awkward.
Local excitement about hosting the big game at the gleaming new U.S. Bank Stadium was definitely tempered by events. As nobody around here needs reminding, the Vikings had handed the New Orleans Saints a devastating playoff loss and needed just one more win to turn the marquee showdown into a home game. The Philadelphia Eagles had other ideas, and walloped the Vikings 38-7 in the NFC championship game.
Let’s just say that the situation tested the limits of Minnesota Nice.
So when Mayor Jacob Frey went on camera and offered a greeting to the visiting teams and their followers, he included a tongue-in-cheek jab at the notoriously, um, boisterous Eagle fans. “Don’t worry, we’re going to be greasing all the lamp posts so you feel right at home,” he said.
Atlanta's mayor is pumping the brakes after a recent comment regarding the Super Bowl in her city sparked a firestorm among the Saints faithful.
Let's just say a couple of feisty New Orleans City Council members weren't willing to take the Atlanta mayor's snide remarks about the New Orl…
The big payoff, though, came at the end of the video, in a cheeky fake hot mic postscript. “Are we seriously welcoming the (bleep)ing Eagles fans?” he asked someone off screen.
Like Minnesota, the South is known for graciousness, but Frey’s counterpart in this year’s Super Bowl city may also have to navigate an awkward situation. The Saints still need to make it past the Rams Sunday to punch their ticket to Atlanta, but Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms let it slip this week that she’s rooting against her home team’s big rivals.
Asked which teams she hoped to be hosting, Bottoms said, “Just about anybody other than the Saints. I know there’s going to be a bounty on my head for saying that, but if it can’t be the Falcons, then, hey as long as it’s not the Saints then I’m happy.”
This was pretty tame as far as trash-talking goes, with no bleeping required. Still, a couple of New Orleans pols bit.
City Councilman Joe Giarrusso said he was speaking for the whole council when he said, “Mayor Bottoms, we expect to see you in a couple of weeks.”
His colleague Jay Banks went to town over the Falcons’ epic collapse when they had their chance two years ago.
“I get it that the green monster of jealousy is raging,” Banks said. “They do not have a trophy and won’t be getting one any time soon...I’m sorry she feels that way. We would welcome them here. At the end of the day they shouldn’t be mad at us that they suck.”
Bottoms later said that it was all just a joke, sort of.
“But I don’t know of a Falcons fan who wants to see New Orleans and the Patriots in the Super Bowl,” she said.
If she was feeling the pressure to dial it back, there really was no need. Verbal jousting like this among politicians is as much as part of the tradition as the ceremonial bets between governors, senators and mayors, with regional foods as the prize.
And Banks is right. New Orleans would welcome the Falcons if the shoe were on the other foot. But you can bet that Saints fans, and the people who represent them, would have a few things to say about their rooting interests — and about the very idea of a hated rival using their team's facilities and making themselves at home in their locker room.
So Bottoms should bring it on, hopefully all the way until Feb. 3. New Orleans fans and the people who represent them can take it.
And as Banks and countless Whodats have already proven, they can give it too.