METAIRIE, La. ― Two colors, four combinations, one “jinx.”
At least, that’s how Who Dat Nation sees it.
After Dallas beat a black pants-wearing Saints late in New Orleans’ 2009 Super Bowl run, the drumbeat grew louder and louder from Saints fans who knew one thing – wearing black pants was not the way to win the big game.
After the Saints lost to Atlanta in the third game this year while wearing, you guessed it, black pants, Who Dats were screaming about the uniform faux pas from the highest points they could find in flat southeastern Louisiana.
How far does their belief go that the pants are cursed? One fan went so far to document the Saints’ wins and losses and what uniform scheme they were wearing in each game since 2006 before sending the research to WWLTV.com.
But to the players, there’s nothing to the Curse of the Black Pants.
“I love the all black,” receiver Devery Henderson said. “I like the all black. I wouldn’t necessarily say we play better in any uniform.”
“It’s hilarious because nowadays, people will find anything to talk about,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. “It is amusing, yes. That’s a great word for it.”
Yet, the fans might just be onto something.
Two of New Orleans’ three losses a season ago came with the black pants on and that means black pants were involved in three of the past five defeats the Saints have suffered.
In all, New Orleans is 16-16 in black pants since the 2006 season opener against Cleveland. The record in gold pants, if you’re wondering, is 29-13, or wins 69 percent of the time gold is worn.
That fans have caught onto this unlikely trend isn’t necessarily surprising, LSU HSC clinical psychologist Amy Dickson said.
“It’s a basic human phenomenon,” Dickson said. “It’s about control. They feel like they’re a part of the win. They feel like they have control over trying to rattle the opponent.”
She added, “People want to help anyway they can. If they can bring this to somebody’s attention, then they feel like they’re doing their part.”
To completely discount the belief in the curse would be to ignore even the simplest superstitions, though.
“You see this with athletes,” Dickson said. “They have a routine or ritual. Does it help? They feel more self-assured because they do that routine.”
Dickson said ultimately you have to take into account all circumstances, including how good or bad the other teams were when they played.
However, the final records of New Orleans’ opponents whom the Saints played while wearing black pants the past four seasons muddles things even more. The Saints’ opponents are a combined 197-192 when New Orleans wears the black pants.
More statistics. The Saints are 9-12 at home in black pants, meaning they’re 7-4 on the road in the black.
But lest you think there’s a subconscious aggression tied to the color of the uniform, Dickson said, “Sometimes people associated black with evil or aggression, but people have declared that as racism.”
For the players, it’s less about won-loss record while wearing the pants and more about how they look and how they feel.
“I don’t know what it is about the black pants, but they don’t feel as heavy, they feel more elastic,” free safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “They look better. They feel better. I don’t think it’s the black pants. I think it’s just a coincidence.”
The fans disagree that it’s just a coincidence.
@jandrewtaylor said via his Twitter account, “As football fans in a city as steeped in superstition as New Orleans, we know a jinx when we see one. Lose the black pants.”
Said @Thomas_Spencer, “don’t need 140 words. Every time we wear them we play horrible. Coach Payton burn the black pants please!!!”
And @liprap added this via Twitter – “If a tree fell in the Superdome & the Saints were wearing black pants, they wouldn’t hear it ‘til the tree had fallen on ‘em.”
Jenkins, Daniel and Henderson all said they’ve heard from fans about the Curse of the Black Pants. Henderson said he’s generally asked the week of the game what uniform the team is wearing.
Jenkins, on the other hand, hears about it afterward.
“Usually whenever they hear we’re wearing them and then usually it’s if we lose or have a bad game, it’s like, ’Those black pants. I promise you that’s what it is,’ ” Jenkins said.
But he won’t buy into it, superstition or not.
“I refuse to believe it because I just like the way they look,” he said. “So, I’m always down for the black pants.”