NEW ORLEANS — You can't watch a Saints game on TV without seeing a shot of the three popes in the front row behind the opposing team.
The three “Bless You Boys Popes” are just as much a part of the home Saints games as hearing the crowd sing “Stand Up and Get Crunk.” In fact, it takes them a long time to get to their seats because so many fans want to take pictures with them.
We got a sneak peek at something new that the popes will unveil at the Monday night game.
This season, the popes have something new in store, all made possible by the some of the wonderful people who make Mardi Gras costumes.
Shel Roumillat of The New Orleans Costume Center, is finishing up the three new Bless You Boys Papal mitres for the season opener. It's a race against the clock to get to the goal line. Each one is hand designed and custom made. Just the hand-sewn "Bless" emblem took five hours to make.
She also made the gold stoles to drape on top of the new robes made by costume designer Julianne Lagniappe.
"I can't wait to see these costumes under the light, the bright lights of the dome with all the sequins. It's going to be really awesome," Costume Designer Julianne Lagniappe said.
The Bless You Boys Popes are retiring the old white vestments for black and gold this year. One of the popes, Keith Williams said there is a reason.
"Well after last year, we're in mourning this year," said 'Pope' Keith Williams.
Shel says right now there is a craving for black and gold in her line of work.
"If the Saints are doing well, black and gold, people are crazy for black and gold, and want to dress up and want to have fun with it," Shel said.
In the past, the popes have even worn pink in October for breast cancer month, and Keith says he likes to think they make a difference on the score board.
"We sit behind the opposing team's bench and we do have our ways of distracting the punters and the kickers. We feel like we make a difference," he said.
And if you think it's all fun and games, Keith will never forget what a fan said to him, with tears streaming down her face, when she asked for a picture with the three of them, saying these words to him.
"When I thought I wasn't going to survive, I was sitting in there watching the TV and I said that my goal was to live long enough to take a picture with y'all," Keith remembers the fan saying to him.
And Pope Keith said they invited that woman to sit with them for the entire game in the front row.
And this year there are two new popes who will be with Keith, because of family health issues, the other two have retired.