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Who dat claiming “Who Dat?”

Super Bowl note: The long-downtrodden New Orleans Saints make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in their 43-year history, and the National Football League issues heavy-handed ceast-and-desist letters to local vendors pushing T-shirts with the words of the signature Saints chant, “Who Dat?”

The NFL claims it has a trademark on the phrase and it will sue to enforce said trademark.

The full phrase is “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” It’s often shortened to just “Who Dat?” The NFL apparently believes the phrase is so closely associated with the team that they have a trademark. ESPN notes that the origins are a little murky, possibly dating back to 19th century minstrel shows.

Nice way to stink up a victory party, guys. New Orleans endures years of awful teams, including a stretch so bad some fans put bags on their heads to cheer “the ’Aints.” They didn’t have a winning season until the late 1980s. Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005, and the Saints became a unifying force to a community still working its way back to normal. My next-door neighbor’s daughter is a lawyer in New Orleans, and he told me she said people were in the streets crying from sheer joy after the Saints’ NFC championship victory.

It goes without saying this run-up week should be about the Saints playing the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, not who’s going to sue whom. But a number of Louisiana state officials are rattling their own legal sabers right back. Gov. Bobby Jindal is making noises about a lawsuit. And U.S. Sen. David Vitter wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “Please either drop your present ridiculous position or sue me.”

A noted poet-philosopher – well, Kenny Rogers — once observed, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away,” etc.

The gurus at the NFL ought to know this is one to fold, even if they hold a winning hand.

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