NEW ORLEANS —
For more than 20 years New Orleans Saints super fan Leroy Mitchell aka “Whistle Monsta” has been part of the noise in the dome.
“Your whistle contributes to all the noise and the madness in the Superdome?,” asked WWL-TV’s Paul Dudley. “Yes. Make them know when they come to Poydras Street it’s not going to be easy.”
But in this Covid-19 new normal, Mitchell and football fans everywhere are left wondering what this pastime will look like.
“When you are talking about the whole fan experience --- it’s all the things we can’t have,” said Mitchell. “I think a lot of people are waiting to see what the NFL is going to do.”
The Washington Post reports the NFL has discussed plans for a shorter schedule and playing in empty stadiums.
“I don’t think any of us are thinking we’re going to pack stadiums with 100,000 people sitting right next to each other,” said former state health secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee who now heads LSU health services. “I don’t think that’s realistic.”
Gee thinks there will be football but It will be different.
“I do think we’ll probably have football,” said Gee. “It’s just how we’re going to have football. Certainly, you’d have to have all the players tested. You’d have to know that the people who are around them, who are taking care of them are negative and you’d have to be careful about it.”
But is there a way to still have fans in the stands?
“You can do some things, whether you have fans sitting 6 feet apart. My husband and I were talking this morning about how that would look in the stands, actually. How many rows is that in the Superdome, for example,” said Gee.
Fans like Mitchell says it would be great if fans were allowed in but he doesn’t know if that’s even possible.
“Would you support something like having some fans if there could be restrictions?,” asked Dudley.
“Do I want to do it? Absolutely. Can they put us in cages where we can’t leave and we just stay in there and everybody just goes crazy?,” said Mitchell with a laugh. “That might work but it’s just too much to ask.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that he is “making sure” the league is doing things right with regard to the health and safety of everyone involved and that “we will be ready to play” when the season begins.
Kick-off is still set for September 10th but it’s clear the game won’t look or sound the same.