As most older fans and passionate Who Dats are aware, the New Orleans Saints’ first game as an NFL franchise was against the Los Angeles Rams. Throughout the five-plus decades that have passed since, the Rams have remained a thorn in their side at one time or another and have been long-time conference rivals.
But some of the younger Who Dat fans got the chance to experience the rivalry firsthand a few months ago in the team’s heartbreaking and controversial overtime loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game; particularly the controversial “no-call” that occurred when Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman purposely launched himself and hit then-Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis with a blatantly-early helmet-to-helmet shot to the head.
Legal Hail Mary: New Orleans Saints fans have filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the results of the NFC Championship game that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl – or schedule a do-over. https://t.co/CvqoBN4J45 pic.twitter.com/uLyyAiMujJ
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) January 23, 2019
Six months after that controversial play, the entire sports world is STILL talking about the way that game ended.
One thing that certainly hasn’t ceased to exist in these past six months: the overwhelming amount of “trash talk” that’s been taking place between the rival fan-bases following the game’s conclusion, which saw L.A. advance to Super Bowl 53 against the New England Patriots instead of New Orleans.
Recently, as an added twist to it all, even more insults are being exchanged between fans from both cities thanks to the wild NBA off-season.
Ironically, one of the biggest headlines in the NBA right now also involves rival teams from New Orleans and Los Angeles. This story has impacted both the young New Orleans Pelicans and the legendary L.A. Lakers franchise: the trade of former Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis to play alongside Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Football fans in New Orleans woke up last week furious that the Saints lost to LA. Basketball fans in New Orleans wake up this week furious that they might end up losing AD to LA. Pelicans might be given an "anybody but LA" mandate by an ownership group that controls both teams
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) January 28, 2019
Saints Rams / Lakers Pelicans
New Rivalries of the century
— Urameshi㊙️ (@LeftFaceKing) June 15, 2019
With NFL training camps starting within the next few weeks and the beginning of the 2019 NFL Season a little less than two months away, the focus is quickly shifting back to the NFL and how the Saints’ 2018 Post-Season ended.
One thing you had best believe: the two rival fan-bases aren’t holding anything back ahead of the teams’ only-scheduled meeting (in the regular season) in Week #2 in Los Angeles -(Sunday, September 15th), whether it be on social media or otherwise.
As it is, a majority of Saints fans are still quite upset even as winter has turned into summer.
Honestly, that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Not long after that game was over, the folks over at Pro Football Reference said the Saints would have had a 90.76 percent chance of winning the game if the pass interference call had been made. It would have given them an automatic 1st down and they could have run out most of the remaining time on the clock before kicking the winning field goal.
Instead, New Orleans was essentially robbed of an opportunity to go the Super Bowl, and has received “blow back” and criticism from around the NFL (especially from the Rams/Lakers fans in L.A.), which has been well-documented.
“Blown PI call at the NFCC game , Brees threw a pick in OT and Saints lost . Anthony Davis told the Pelicans he wants out”
New Orleans sports fans : pic.twitter.com/hxj13kRRCw
— Kawhi Suge Knight Leonard🏁 (@CalledMe_Buskey) January 28, 2019
Pelicans are demanding so much from the Lakers for AD because of what the Rams did to the Saints… pic.twitter.com/awRuG8qi1x
— Elisha Guidry (@BiG_EZ7) February 6, 2019
The reaction of the Saints organization and its fans to the controversial way they were prevented from reaching the Super Bowl has come under fire by a wide variety of NFL analysts and rival fan-bases in the past few months. All of them feel that the Saints and the Who Dat Nation are all “whiners” or “crybabies”.
Regardless of whether or not you view that narrative as fair and reasonable or complete trash, the end result was that that the NFL got (and still has for the most part) a public-relations NIGHTMARE on their hands.
Part of that nightmare stems from the prevailing thought among fans — whether it be Who Dats or fans of other NFL teams — that the League intentionally rigged games to predetermine a winner before the contests are even played.
JUST IN: A judge has refused to order the NFL to implement a rule that could have led to a do-over of the NFC championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, according to the AP pic.twitter.com/MkConfpf5z
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 31, 2019
The NFL Competition Committee made promises to change the rules regarding instant replay and the ability for coaches to make challenges to any future incidents, but it has done very little in to quell the unrest among Saints fans – including those who readily buy into those conspiracy theories.
Now, that isn’t only the view of fans from across the NFL, but also from a handful of current and former NFL players. While the Saints and their passionate fans have had some folks from around the rest of the country who have been somewhat sympathetic to their plight, not everyone agrees that New Orleans was on the receiving end of an “injustice”, and one that indisputably cost a loyal NFL community and franchise a shot at winning an elusive 2nd World Championship.
Here's a clip of an alternate angle where Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman committed an obvious defensive pass interference that wasn't called. From where the 2 referees standing in front of this play, this CLEARLY shows they're totally INCOMPETENT! 🤬🤬🤬 @NFLOfficiating @nflcommish pic.twitter.com/MPi1weUCik
— ⚜ WHO DAT Cool Breesy ⚜ (@Steve2duhO) January 21, 2019
The prevailing narrative in the months since is that Saints fans need to just “get over it” somehow and move on with their lives.
While that isn’t exactly the worst advice that a loyal Who Dat could get from someone, let’s call it what it is. The idea (however misguided it may be) is that in the grand scheme of things, small-market New Orleans isn’t all that important within the “bigger picture” of success for the NFL or the professional sports world as a whole.
It’s one that probably could be considered an “anti-New Orleans bias.”
Had that controversy happened to a team with a much larger national following (such as the New England Patriots or the Dallas Cowboys), you can’t deny that the prevailing narrative from across the nation would very likely be much different.
Sadly, as we’ve previously mentioned here at Big Easy Magazine, that hasn’t been the case.
However, there is one thing that Saints fans SHOULD be absolutely thrilled about: with the notable exception(s) of perhaps the Patriots, Rams, and the Kansas City Chiefs, a majority of the NFL’s other 32 teams won’t be nearly as good as the Saints are expected to be when the 2019 NFL Season gets underway in several more weeks.
NFL season is only 64 days away, and the Patriots, Chiefs, Saints and Rams are the early favorites to win Super Bowl 54 heading into week 1. 🏈👀 pic.twitter.com/tFS5wAd41A
— Housetakedown.com (@HouseTakedown) July 3, 2019
While you can bet that the “trash talk” will only get louder between Saints and Rams fans between now and September, one thing that’s been kept to a bare minimum (at least for now) is the actual “trash talk” between any of the Saints and Rams players.
Clearly, neither side really wants to give the other any sort of “bulletin board material” ahead of their highly-anticipated match-up in Los Angeles in Week #2. In fact, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman (the player guilty of the penalty on that controversial play six months ago) is one of them.
“It ain’t my fault. It’s not my fault. That’s my message to them (all Saints fans),” he said in an interview with NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero several weeks ago. “I made a football play, I was playing fast, that’s it. I don’t know why they are so angry over that call.”
And Robey-Coleman isn’t alone in trying to make sure that the Saints don’t come into Los Angeles with payback fresh on their minds, although the hype that invariably will envelop both teams and the game that week, will be hard and virtually impossible to overcome.
“I’m kind of happy it’s early, I’m going to be honest with you,” Rams cornerback John Johnson said during an interview on the NFL Network just last week. “A team like that in mid-season form is a tough battle. Playing in that dome definitely makes it tougher, so being that early at home, it’s definitely in our favor, but it’s going to be a great game. You know the history just within the past two years that we have, so it’s going to be a great game. I’m looking forward to it.”
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) November 26, 2017
However, not all of the Rams players are shying away from the rematch. One of the more vocal players in that regard is none other than veteran Rams CB Aqib Talib — who a few weeks ago said he wanted the rematch with the Saints to take place immediately in Week #1, preferring it to start off the 2019 Season.
“Let’s start it off with them, man, Week #1,” Talib said.
“They want to play us, we ain’t have no problem playing the guys, so let’s start it off Monday night or however,” he continued. “Put us under the lights and let’s get to it.”
Will Tom Brady's road struggles continue in the playoffs? Will Aqib Talib be the difference in Rams/Saints Round Two?#NFL researcher for CBS Sports @DanBudick joins @SBNationMatt now to give his bold predictions for the #AFC and #NFC Championship games.https://t.co/ad395h8ot8 pic.twitter.com/bu3VwmrdE9
— SB Nation Radio (@SBNationRadio) January 18, 2019
Talib made it abundantly clear that the Saints organization and their Who Dat Nation fanbase aren’t the only ones looking forward to the rematch.
Many NFL observers will be expecting New Orleans to be looking for some type of “payback,” but the Rams will also be highly motivated – especially given the insults that have been flying fast and furious between the rival fanbases that are certain to intensify as the game approaches.
But to the Saints’ credit, their players and coaching staff haven’t said a whole lot about the pending Week #2 contest. One can only assume that they plan on letting their on-field performance that day to do all of their talking for them.
Regardless of whether the NFL schedule-makers set the inevitable rematch to take place in Week #2 or Week #17, there were going to be huge implications no matter what.
Keep in mind the Saints will be playing that game at a stadium that they’ve only won at twice in nearly 53 years (in back-to-back seasons in both 1978 and 1979, which was FORTY YEARS AGO).The Saints have played at the old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 12 times in team history, winning only those two times in back-to-back years in the Dick Nolan/late 1970’s era.
Perhaps they can use some motivation from the events of sic months ago at the Superdome as a source of motivation in the rematch.
As any “older” Who Dat fan can quickly tell you: the Rams OWNED the series between the two teams throughout the early years, particularly when the Rams dominated the old version of the NFC West Division back in those days before the onset of the San Francisco 49ers dynasty under the legendary duo of head coach Bill Walsh and QB Joe Montana beginning in 1981.
The Rams currently lead the all-time series between the two teams with a (42-34) advantage. Most of the Saints’ wins came during the early to mid-1990’s, when the Rams first moved and were playing in the city of St. Louis (but just before their own Super Bowl-winning era) and the Black and Gold were able to somewhat narrow the gap in the win-loss record between them.
Now the Rams are back in Los Angeles, and obviously once again have become a thorn in the Saints’ side, just as they were throughout most of that entire decade of the 1970’s.
The events that unfolded in the Superdome six months ago, have inherently made that happen, and permanently so.
And in a little over two months, it will be down-to-Earth New Orleans vs. elitist Hollywood in the rematch that the entire professional sports world will be talking about. You can rest assured: the accompanying “trash talk” will be definitely flying at an all-time high.