"GET CRUNK" AND "CHOPPA STYLE" were missing their missing ingredients on Sunday. The fans, aka "The Who Dat Nation." Hearing the songs on television without fan attendance was like having a bowl of Creole Gumbo without File' and a Roux - it becomes just another soup.
The New Orleans Saints and HC Sean Payton missed the fans on the Saints' Sunday opener in the Superdome. The Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23 in their season opener without fans in the stadium. But, that's not all that was missing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that afternoon.
Was there an impact of an empty Superdome? As a 15-year Saints season ticket holder, I know that fans live for Saints games on Sunday in the Superdome. ‘Who Dat’ chants, black and gold face paintings, Saints whistles, ‘bless you boys’ kisses, arena waves, and second lines.
The Mercedes Benz Superdome erupts with cheers from Saints fans when the speakers vibrate over 120 decibels and play ‘Halftime-Stand Up and Get Crunk’ and ‘Choppa Style’. The songs have become game mantras for the Saints and fans, and the atmosphere changes in the Superdome. TE Jared Cook said the empty arena was "eerie."
It was eerie. It was definitely uncharacteristic for sure. It was very different. You could hear a lot. The music was not loud enough. The crowd noise we felt was not loud enough. You definitely had to bring your own energy, which was different. Our fans fuel us. People get us going. Those fans encourage us and bring the noise. It was a day where you had to bring your own energy. We did the best that we could to hype each other up and keep each other going on the sidelines. Jared Cook - Saints, Tight End
What was the impact of a ‘Silent’ Superdome?
1. There will be no heightened sense of adrenaline for the Saints before those key downs when the fans help to turn up the intensity.
QB Drew Brees confirmed the value of Saints fans,
“I’m not going to lie. You know, you run out and obviously you’re used to the energy and the emotion in the dome, (with) the fans, obviously with each and every play. You’re waiting for that fan reaction like that big cheer on big offensive play, big defensive stop, or special teams play whatever it might be. And you know, obviously, they play stand up and Get Crunk and it was only at 75 decibels, right? Not at about 100 decibels like it normally is with everybody singing and dancing along with it.
They didn’t do Choppa Style justice either. They had to keep that volume down too, which was disappointing. We wish that we had fans out there. We wish they were and could be out there with us and be a part of this, but it’s at this stage. Listen, this is the normal for now and so I think for us coming into it, obviously, we knew it was going to be different, we knew there was going to be just some unknowns.
But at the end of the day, it was ‘worry about what we can control’, create our own energy, focus on the job that we have to do. And listen, I thought it was a great team win. We’re going to look at the tape and there’s going to be plenty of mistakes in all areas of this game. And obviously, we can get so much better in so many areas. But at the end of the day, it was a great team win.”
2. Opposing teams will not have difficulty hearing calls in a "fanless" stadium.
Tampa Bay’s HC HEAD Bruce Arians said communication was easy without Saints fans. He expressed he was a bit disappointed because there was no noise,
There was no noise. It was like a regular practice with no noise. We practice with a heck of a lot more noise than that. I was kind of disappointed – I don’t think it was fair to the Saints to have it that low because you can have an easy conversation across the field to somebody. It’s not a very good deal [and] it should be fixed.
3. Audibles are easier with a “Silent” Superdome.
The first touchdown scored by Tampa Bay was an audible by Tom Brady,
“The keeper looked to be an audible at the line. Brady saw the A gap was free, so he took it and pushed it in. The Bucs first touchdown set the tone and proved that they had what it takes to push the ball down the field against one of the most well-balanced defenses in the league.”
Drew Brees compared the noise in the Superdome to a little buzz on Sunday,
4. One good thing, fans will not have the post-game headache from crowd noise.
There are no sports leagues that depend on fan noise to provide an advantage as much as the National Football League. Dome teams have a significant advantage over outdoor arena teams because the domes’ noise levels are more pronounced than outdoor arenas. There is no doubt the Saints miss the advantage of crowd noise in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and HC Sean Payton, and the team is looking forward to getting fans back in the stands.
With the win, the Saints open the 2020 season 1-0 and win their season opener in consecutive years for the first time since 2008-10. New Orleans returns to action on Monday, September 21st when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders (1-0) in the very first NFL game ever and event inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. Kickoff is set for 7:15 PM CST on Monday Night Football broadcast by ESPN/ABC.