NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ranks pretty low among New Orleans Saints fans' favorite people. Literally. It's also part of the script of "the rivalry," and one that still simmers despite the regular season ending: Bountygate burned the Saints' playoff chances (and the chance to be the first team to play in its own Super Bowl host city), among other things, and Goodell is the bad guy. Tweets to @nflcommish aren't exactly inviting. Rivalries thrive in sports, but never so explicitly between a team and a person.
He'll arrive for Super Bowl XLVII in the coming weeks. Bars and restaurants haven't exactly rolled out their welcome mats. Finn McCool's Irish Pub and Parkview Tavern in Mid-City have posted dartboards bearing Goodell's likeness. Then there's "Go to Hell, Goodell." Some banned him outright.
At a media luncheon hosted by the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee announcing the latest preparations for Super Bowl XLVII, Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged New Orleans to be on its best behavior — not only is the Super Bowl the city's time in the spotlight, and a time to show off its southern hospitality, but it also must prove it can do it again.
"It's a great joy and a blessing to have an opportunity to host this event," he told the crowd. "It's our time to shine, it's our time to tell our story. ... It's important to me that we do the thing we do better than anybody, which is be nice, and be hospitable. ... If Atlanta gets in the Super Bowl, I'm a struggle, but I promise you, I will be on my best behavior. ... Be gracious and wonderful hosts and show people the hospitality they deserve. This extends to Roger Goodell, too. I know everybody in the city is belly aching about the last year. But here's the thing: Roger Goodell has always been a friend to the City of New Orleans, and he and (former commissioner) Paul Tagliabue ... have worked really hard to make sure this stays here. ... Mind your P's and Q's."
Landrieu elaborated to Gambit about the anti-Goodell welcome wagon:
It doesn't serve any purpose. There's got to be a wall between what happened in the past and what goes on in the regular season and the Super Bowl. It's just not becoming and it doesn't make any sense. I would ask them to treat every citizen that comes in from whatever team, doesn't matter whether it's the commissioner, to treat them with dignity and respect. Roger Goodell, for whatever people think of him from the Saints' events, has been a great friend to New Orleans, and it's a fact that he's one of the people instrumental to making sure the Saints stayed here. He was also the first person responsible for us getting the Super Bowl and wants to get more here. It doesn't help to cut off our nose to spite our face. I'm just asking, mind your P's and Q's and be respectful to him and every other fan. ... This is a clarion call from me to everybody. For this week, it is all about the city shining and we don't want to mess that up by being disrespectful to him and any other teams. We want to be on our best behavior to keep doing this.
James Carville, who co-chairs the committee, told Gambit, "You do what your mama tells you. You treat people right when they're in your house. I think people will. We've got Coach (Sean) Payton back, we're anxious to put this behind this, and we're excited about the game. ... When they come to our house, we're going to treat them right. ... We sure want the NFL to come back. We've got to treat them right — we want another one. I don't think people really want that to happen."
When asked about the dartboards, he chuckled.
"I get that," he said. "Kind of a bargaining campaign. He's got to have thick skin."