Posted on January 29, 2010 at 10:32 PM
Saturday, Jan 30 at 8:57 PM
After massive public outcry, criticism from congressman and U.S senators, and the bright lights of the national spotlight, the NFL is now calling the Who Dat controversy one major misunderstanding. So is the NFL finally easing up on its policies or just clarifying what it has said all along?
Tessa Jackson is in the market for some new Who Dat gear, but with the NFL now threatening legal action against area t-shirt shops for selling certain kinds of Who Dat merchandise…..she's decided to create her own.
"To me the Fleur de Lis is part of our civic brand and I feel like it's on loan to the Saints," said Jackson. "So for them to tell us as a city as citizens we can't use phrases, that's galling!"
For those hoping to grab the last of the store made Who Dat shirts, your luck just ran out at the Uptown shop Fleurty Girl Apparel.
"I actually got the last shirt," said customer Abigail Wible.
But while the shirts here may be gone, the controversy still lingers, as U.S. Senator David Vitter has even jumped into the ring.
"This position of the NFL is outrageous," Vitter told Eyewitness News. "It's offensive and it's also legally indefensible."
In a letter to the Commissioner of the NFL, Vitter wrote, "I would urge you to drop this obnoxious and legally unsustainable position and instead agree that "Who Dat" is in the public domain, giving no one exclusive trademark rights."
Otherwise, Vitter says he's threatening to mass produce his own shirts that read "Who Dat Say We Can't Print Who Dat."
Today the NFL shot back saying, not all uses of Who Dat and the Fleur de Lis are off limits...
"Rather, the NFL has sent our narrowly targeted letters, challenging the sale of products bearing the Fleur de Lis and Who Dat marks only when those products contain or are advertised using other trademarks or identifiers of the Saints," wrote Jeffrey Miller, NFL Government Relations and Public Policy Vice President.
And as for why the owner of Fleurty Girl Apparel was ordered by the NFL to stop selling their Who Dat version t-shirt, the NFL says it has nothing to do with the t-shirt design, but instead how it was marketed. The NFL says on the store's website called it the 'official twitter hash tag for the Saints.'
Even so, it still seems to add up a sort of nightmarish public relations mess for the NFL.
"They start to lose something long term and that is a sense of loyalty and credibility," said Harish Sujan, professor of consumer behavior marketing at Tulane University. "Now how it will play it itself out I don't know, it's stop going to stop people from watching football and being part of it, so there will be some amount of resentment.”
The Saints franchise has remained mostly mum, saying it's NFL who enforces trademark infringement, but today Coach Sean Payton weighed in.
"I don't think anyone can own Who Dat personally," said Payton.
Jackson says she thinks dat, too, and adds nothing will stop her from sporting Who Dat.
"We're a scrappy bunch of people here in New Orleans so I think making our own saints t-shirts are right up our ally."
Rep. Charlie Melancon, who happens to be challenging Vitter for his senate seat is also weighing in. On his campaign website, Melancon started an online petition urging the NFL to change its Who Dat policy.
As for the Saints, the day after they found out they were going to the Super bowl in Miami, the teams' owner Tom Benson, applied for a Who Dat trademark in Florida.