In lieu of a moment of silence Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, team officials decided to send a warm shout out to celebrate the life of the late Jerry Romig, the beloved longtime public address announcer for the New Orleans Saints.
So at the end of the first quarter of the Saints’ 38-27 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a picture of a smiling Romig displayed on the Jumbotron, the announced sellout crowd of 73,064 offered a heartfelt eulogy: “FIRST DOWN SAAAINNTSS!’’
Romig died Wednesday at his home in River Ridge. He was 86, serving as the Saints’ public address announcer from 1969 until he stepped down from that role in 2013.
High above the field in the stadium house control booth, Mark Romig, Romig’s son and current PA announcer, put his emotions aside and went about his game-day business.
“It’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling today,’’ said Romig, president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. “People are expressing their love for dad and how much they equate him as part of the Saints. For so many years, when people think of the Saints they think of dad.
“I feel a huge responsibility to do this right, and to do it justice, and to try and maintain his legacy. That said, being able to follow my dad is the biggest honor I’ve ever received in my life. He is my hero.’’
The Saints have always been a family affair for the Romigs. On home games, Mark is assisted in his PA duties by his brother Jay, and sister, Mary Beth, and longtime spotter Bro. Francis David, president of St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, among others.
Mary Beth Romig fought back tears as the crowd paid homage to her father.
“I still remember all the good times we had up here,’’ said Saints administrative director Jay Romig, now in his 39th year with the organization. “Today is pretty special for our family.’’
Afterward, Saints coach Sean Payton acknowledged Jerry Romig’s many contributions to the team.
“His voice was what we always heard on the field,’’ Payton said. “Our condolences to his family. We’re saddened by his loss, but we will always remember the good things.’’
As the Saints closed out the home portion of their 2015 schedule Sunday, Mark Romig put an exclamation point on his father’s streak of 446 consecutive home games as the team’s public address announcer that came to a ceremonious end prior to the start of the 2013 season.
A year later, Saints owner Tom Benson, General Manager Mickey Loomis and Payton presented Romig with a Super Bowl XLIV ring.
“I can still hear my dad say ... ‘Touchdown Saints! ... ‘First Dowwwwnnnn Saaaa-iints!’ ... ‘It’s gooodddd!’ ... things like that,’’ Romig said. “Marques Colston even wanted me to keep saying ‘Marques COLLLL-ston’ after a long reception.
“I would love to maintain my dad’s legacy for as long as I can. However long that is I don’t know. I’d like to do it as long as I am being helpful to the fans and the Saints. I will do this with dad on my shoulder!’’