Can it really get any better than the New Orleans Saints?
We all know by now that the New Orleans Saints are an amazing team, with an amazing surrounding organization. The athletes that help to touch hearts and spread joy across the world both on and off the field is amazing, but today the focus is on something else.
I, being a fan of the New Orleans Saints, know first hand that this team, this organization, has a phenomenal and unique fan base. Whether it be representing the Saints in the most glamorous of threads during Game Day, or using the Saints as an outlet to give back to your community, all that matters is New Orleans Saints fans are AMAZING. Seeing everyone come together, having a passion, desire, or love for something, especially considering it’s the New Orleans Saints, I think is absolutely breath-taking.
After experiencing, and meeting various Saints fans throughout my lifetime, I figured it would be at least appropriate if I shed the spotlight, and turned it on some of the fans that help keep this fan base, team, and organization going.
In this week’s article, I took to the internet and interviewed Saints fan Joel Smith to hear his story.
For those of you who didn’t know, Joel Smith is not only the owner but the founder of “The New Orleans Saints Group ” Facebook Group, which currently has over 75,000 members and growing. It is not only the largest Saints group on social media but is the 3rd largest NFL group on Facebook. If you’re an avid representative of the Who Dat Nation and love everything New Orleans Saints, I strongly recommend everyone check out this amazing fan group. It’s a big party for sure – especially when the Saints are playing. The link for the Facebook Page can be found here.
Joel Smith is a software engineer who not only has a love for the New Orleans Saints, but has a passion, love, and desire for technology.
When asked about his passions and love for various items, he best described his love for technology and the Saints, as two-fold. As well as being a passionate Saints fan, Joel enjoys the physical aspects of creating various banners, and images through the experiences he’s learned from a previous career position as a graphic designer. “I like to do things for them, like making awards and artwork just to let them know that they are appreciated and recognize them and to let them know that they are a part of our family. They seem to enjoy it and it is a fun way to support the team.”
Tyler: What are your favorite Saints related memories in your lifetime?
Joel: I have a lot of memories as a kid watching the games on tv with my dad in the earlier years, but I guess the greatest saint memories were during a time when I was attending a lot of games. The 1980s onward. The Dome Patrol years. Memorable players from that era where the likes of Morten Anderson, Toi Cook, Gene Atkins, Rueben Mayes, Ironhead Hayward, Dalton Hilliard and much more. The Falcons rivalry during the Deon Sanders years is something that is etched into my memory.aswell as Joe Montana kicking our ass in his prime. $12 – $18 Saints tickets was the going rate at that time.
At that time, the 49ers and Joe Montana was in our division, which was the NFC West. We had Bobby Herbert. The cha-ching era was really memorable. Obviously, the return to the Dome against the Falcons with the Gleason kick ranks high.
The Falcons rivalry was nasty in the 80s. They did not ban glass bottles in the Dome until later years, so as you can imagine there were altercations.
My biggest takeaway from all of this are the people that I have met along the ways and the stories.
Tyler: Joel, what is your story? Is there anything you’d like the world and The Who Dat Nation to know about you in regards to you being a fan of the New Orleans Saints?
Joel: I have been a Saints fan since 1974 growing up in Metairie Louisiana. I have gone through many disappointing seasons like so many other longtime fans and have never waivered my faith in the team or organization at any point.
My job has taken me out of state, so I understand what it is like to be away from your home, to live in another state and not be able to be around fans and the team as much as you would like. That is one of the major focuses for the group – to allow fans to come together regardless of where they live. To feel closer to the team and to the fans and to allow fans to interact with other Saints fans. I enjoy being able to do this for our fans.
I have lived in Metairie for over 30 years and have been to countless Saints games, tailgating parties, game day cookouts and many other events. My experiences with fans, the city and the electrifying atmosphere of the Superdome – That is what I try to bring to the communities and share with the fans.
The Saints, the fans, the discussions and the games are a big part of my life. Almost every memory in my life has a connection to the saints, whether that is going to games or watching on tv. What we do in the social communities is a big part of my life too. Beyond the shared love for the saints, the friendships
forged and the enjoyment of bringing an online fan experience to the fans is truly rewarding. Also, so many life lessons translate from football, even as a fan.
Tyler: What’s it like for you knowing you’re the creator/owner of the largest Saints related fan page on Facebook?
Joel: Well, I truly enjoy doing what I do. What makes it all work are the fans and love for the team. The Who Dat Nation fanbase is really a special and unique group of people. It truly is a family environment. The discussions and article in the group really provide very in-depth information of the Saints team and organization. The group also provides a vehicle, a voice to reach a lot of people and to help others. It also has allowed me to meet a lot of wonderful and interesting people.
The stories that we hear from members of how the group has forged many friendships for so many is what makes it all worthwhile. Another reason we do what we do is that we have a lot of fans from all over the country and the world that engage in the group. We have a lot of saints fans in the military that are deployed overseas and many others living outside of Louisiana that cannot see the games and our group allows them to feel closer to the fans and the team.
Helping others, which the group has facilitated has really been rewarding. The fulfillment of serving a higher purpose and the joy and smiles it brings to their faces as well as mine. The feeling of having an impact on improving the quality of life for someone is very rewarding. It is social media, and people will not always agree with you, but I am very conscience of staying focused on our intent and purpose.
We have many members that are elderly and some are very sick or terminal with little family around them. Some of them even live in retirement homes. The group provides a break from life and gives them a sense of family and of the community.
With so many people, the group is so much more than football. It is a vehicle to help others by reaching out to a large audience. Our involvement with Natural disaster relief, charities, fundraisers, cancer awareness as well as supporting Louisiana small businesses really make an impact. We also believe strongly in youth programs. That is what this is really all about. There is truly great power in numbers and it helps facilitate a greater cause and emphasizes our focus on family.
The fans are what make it great. They make me proud to be a Saints fan. I could not do what I do without all the tireless efforts of my admin staff and all those who contribute to the community.
I am a Software Engineer and have been employed in Information Technology in various positions throughout my career, which I love. My passion is two-fold. I love the Saints and the fans, but I also love the technology of the medium in which we are using to make all of this possible.
The technology skills are more evident with the various automation technologies that are powering the group such as automated real-time Saints news alerts and game score tracker feeds. The fans really enjoy reading the articles and have come to depend on the Saints news feeds. Those two passions together have brought us where we are today with the communities.
What I do, I do out of passion. I would say, we are all family It is just a game. Treat others well and trust the coaches. Media likes to project controversy and I suppose that is all part of the game.
We receive no financial compensation for what we do. What we do, we do out of passion and love for the team and fans.
So many people contribute to and are a part of our success. All of their contributions, hard work and determination have really made a difference.
I would like to thank the Who Dat Nation fans for all of their support and my entire administration team at the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS Group: Allen Ulrich, John Pinto, Merlot Fudge, Varissa Ann, Keven Foster, Dee Cornell, Wayne Beech, Karen Lyn Malone, Ronnie Bond, Pertie Winchester, Dave J. Jackson, Avery Perkins and Jermain Gross for all of their help managing the communities and providing interesting content for our readers to enjoy.
I would also like to recognize Canal Street Chronicles’ Deuce Windham and John Hendrix. Sean Williams at under The Dome Podcasts, The Crew over at New Orleans Saints official Facebook page, The Advocates’ Nick Underhill, Tyler Raymond at FanSided, Donald Silcio (Gametime Saint) and all of the New Orleans Saints Superfans for all of the work that they do for the fans and in the community, Barry Hirstuis at Saints News Network and The 247Sports crew.
Fans like these are unforgettable. With fans of this caliber, it would be only fair to recognize people who help make this organization so amazing. I want to personally thank Joel Smith for his willingness to take part, he did a phenomenal job, and I’m looking forward to finding amazing stories like his in other people in the future.
Stay tuned Who Dat Nation as Who Dat Dish and myself like to give heart touching personal stories as well as the latest, and greatest Saints content, and news. This will most likely be a monthly series I’d like to start, so stay tuned as I’ll have someone different next time!