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QBREES9 07-23-2010 10:45 PM

Fans get taste, feel of Super run
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The New Orleans Saints franchise was announced in 1966. That marks the year when Denise Summerell, of Walker, became a fan.

“I was at the first game in 1967 against the Los Angeles Rams,” Summerell said.

That was more than reason enough for her to attend the Saints Championship Tour stop at the Baton Rouge River Center on Thursday, she said.

The tour of gear, trophies, the Super Bowl ring and other items from the Saints’ championship season started in north Louisiana and has attracted about 10,000 people at each stop, said Ben Hales, vice president of marketing and business development.

The tour is a way for the entire state to see and be a part of the NFL title season, he said.

After seeing the reaction to the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the victory parade in New Orleans and at Mardi Gras where people from throughout the state drove to just to see the trophy, the idea of a tour seemed to make sense, he said.

“We realized not everyone can drive in, and they’re all Saints fans,” Hales said.

Summerell said her late father was a huge football fan and had played on a championship high school football team in New Orleans.

“If you wanted to spend Sunday with Daddy, you learned to love football,” she said with a laugh, then adding she wished her dad had lived to see the Saints win it all.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” she said.

More than 150 people were lined up at the River Center when the doors opened at 10 a.m. Many more hundreds were expected throughout the day, Hales said.

The Lombardi Trophy was one of the more popular items and it was set up — without any protective glass — so that people could file by and get family and friends to take their picture standing next to it.

“We kind of feel it’s their trophy and they feel like it’s their trophy,” Hales said. “People have been waiting for this for 40 years.”

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