Tootin' their Horn: Receiver makes lofty promises.........
Tootin' their Horn: Receiver makes lofty promises on behalf of Saints (6/16)
By BRIAN GUILBEAU
New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett stood aside nervously as his star receiver with a flair for showmanship and a cell phone addiction assumed the role of emcee at the Prien Lake Mall on Wednesday.
"Y'all want a Super Bowl?" Joe Horn asked several hundred fans clad in the black and gold team colors. "We're going to the Super Bowl."
The three-time Pro Bowl wideout didn't stop at the Super Bowl, also promising the NFL's best defense.
"He makes me very nervous," Haslett said half jokingly of Horn, who later voiced his displeasure with the league's policy on touchdown celebrations. "He drank a lot of coffee today and was cooped up on the bus."
Haslett and Horn were in town along with receivers Michael Lewis and Devery Henderson, running back Fred McAfee and defensive end Charles Grant as part of the Saints' western regional caravan ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â a question-and-answer session followed by autograph signings.
After the rather lofty promises, Horn went on to introduce the rest of the players, calling McAfee (who turns 37 on Monday) an "old man."
"But, he's an old man with speed," added Horn, who had to pause momentarily to answer his cell phone. "This guy can go rabbit hunting with a hammer."
Lewis, known affectionately as the "Beer Man" because of his pre-football job of driving a beer truck, was renamed "Gingerbread Man" by Horn, who said defenders "can run, run as fast as you can, but you can't catch him; he's the Gingerbread Man."
The first question came from behind the stage when a gentleman wanted to know if Horn, who signed a six-year, $42 million contract in May, bought a new house yet.
"I still live in the same house I lived in for the past several years," Horn shot back. "And, I am going to stay there because I am going to retire a New Orleans Saint."
Weather or not the Saints stay in New Orleans has been a hot topic lately and Horn said he understands where owner Tom Benson is coming from.
"Everyone else is getting a new stadium, why shouldn't he?" said Horn. "It doesn't matter where we are located. We still have to play football. But I'd like to stay in New Orleans."
The Lake Charles stop was the group's fifth stop in the last two days, starting the day with a pair of appearances in Lafayette.
"From a personal standpoint it's nice to meet fans," said Haslett, who couldn't recall any other NFL organization doing similar events. "From a team standpoint, being in a small market, it let's people know we appreciate their support."
There was plenty of support Wednesday as fans started to gather more than one hour before the scheduled 5 p.m. start of the event. A half-hour before the event it was a sea of fleur-de-lis with fans bringing just about anything black and gold they could find to have signed.
They were young and old, male and female and they brought footballs, hats, helmets, jerseys, pictures, T-shirts, golf jackets even a construction hard hat resembling a helmet.
Seven-month-old Katie Duran was decked out in her Saints cheerleader uniform with a black and gold ribbon in her hair. Her favorite player is Deuce McAllister, which might be why she buried her face in her hands when Horn picked her up to take a photo.
Horn, though, was easily the fan favorite as proven by throng of jerseys with the number 87.
Bertrand Smith, 11, came to see Horn as did 6-month-old Alyssa Fruge, who had her pajamas signed by Horn.
Horn, best known for pulling a cell phone from under the goal post padding after a touchdown, had the longest line of well-wishers and autograph seekers ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â several, of course, wanting their cell phone signed.
"People spend their hard-earned money to see us play," Horn said during a brief respite of posing for photos. "We need to get out and meet them and rub shoulders with them. I enjoy every minute of it."
Horn said he doesn't have any plans to top the cell phone gag, calling the NFL's policy on celebrations "boring."
"But, it's their league," he said. "If they want to fine people, they can do it.
"It's a league of double standards anyway," he added. "How can you tell me that you are going to let guys in Green Bay do the Lambeau Leap and possibly hurt some kid, but I can't pull out a cell phone?"
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