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“Who Dat” vs. “Who Dey,” The History and Origins

“Who dat, who dat, who dat say gonna beat dem Saints?” A chant all Saints fans are familiar with, but it’s more than just a chant, it’s who and what we are. If you’re a Saints fan you are a “Who dat,” and also a part of the “Who Dat Nation.” Before every Saints game starts off, a Saints player, usually Drew Brees, goes to the center of the field, motions his arm down, and the whole Super Dome erupts in the chant. The last game when the Saints played against the Rams, the chant was so loud it was heard over the announcers during their broadcast. To all Saints fans the chant originated here, but if you travel north across the country to Cincinnati, you will find a different story and a different origin. So, as the Saints prepare to take on the Bengals, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what came first, the “Who Dat,” or the “Who Dey?”

It’s largely debated down south Louisiana what school it started at first, but most settle on Southern University in Baton Rouge as the first time the chant was used in the 1960’s. Two high schools, St. Augustine and Patterson, quickly picked up the chant and used it next, some time around the early 1970’s. By the late 1970’s, Alcorn University and Louisiana State University were using the chant regularly. The chant was also gaining popularity all over and spreading across the state. The first documented use of the chant by the Saints was in a 1972 article by the Times Picayune when the paper used it to reference to a New England Patriots player Carl Garret. The chant had become so popular with the fans that in 1979, during coach Bum Phillips stint, the Saint’s organization decided to adopt it. Also in 1979, New Orleans legend Aaron Neville recorded a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” where he added in the chant, “Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints.” The chant in the song was actually said by Saints players of the time. In 1981, a song was wrote and titled, “Who Dat” by Frankie Smith, for the LSU’s men’s basketball team that made it to the final four teams of the NCAA men’s tournament. The “Who Dat” chant has a long and rich history here in Louisiana, but in

1981 controversy arose.

During the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals Super bowl run, somewhere along the way, their fans picked up the “Who Dey,” chant. If the Bengals did not flat out just steal the chant from Louisiana, it appears that their chant comes from a mix of a local beer company and a car dealership commercial. In 1981, the Hudephol Brewing company celebrated the teams success by placing “Who Dey” on all their cans for that year coining the phrase “Who Dey.” Who knows how long they have been saying “Who Dey” there, but it does not seem very likely that it was before 1981.

“Who Dat,” in it’s own right is the Cajun French pronunciation of who is that, and the Cajun’s have been saying that long before a football was ever hiked, and certainly long before 1981. One thing is for sure though if you’re a Saints fan, you have become use to the NFL swag stealing from the Saints, with the most current offense being the team photo celebration after a big play. But, no matter if you say “Who Dat” or “Who Dey,” come this Sunday when our boys leave Paul Brown stadium, we will be the ones proudly saying our chant knowing where it came from and when it started. “Who dat, who dat, who dat say gonna beat dem Saints, who dat?” Not the Bengals on Sunday! WHO DAT!

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