Saints set the mood for Vikings' visit

No place like dome

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2001

NEW ORLEANS -- After the New Orleans Saints lost a playoff game to Minnesota in the Metrodome amid blaring music, the sounds of revving motorcycle engines and screaming fans, coach Jim Haslett knew just how to welcome the Vikings to the Superdome.

Call it mood music. Call it strategy. Call it returning a favor. But don't call the tunes piped through newly set up sideline speakers on Sunday unfair.

''When we played them last year it was extremely loud and they had music piped in,'' Haslett said Tuesday. ''We're not doing anything illegal. The thing about it is, when we were at the owners' meetings last year, I confronted Denny Green in front of everybody and his comments to me were '''You have a dome, use it to your advantage.'''

Acting on Green's advice, the Saints supplemented the noise made by 70,000-fans with giant speakers on each end of both benches. And they won the game 28-15.

''Obviously we need to win some games at home,'' said Haslett, who watched the Saints finish 7-1 on the road, but 3-5 on their home field last year. ''We're not breaking any rules by any means. It was hard to hear on our side, also.''

But, some Vikings officials maintained, not as hard to hear as on the Minnesota side.

''If there are speakers on the field they are supposed to be between the 20-yard line and the end zone,'' Vikings vice president Mike Kelly said Tuesday. ''And they are supposed to be facing away from the benches. The Saints violated both those rules.''

The Vikings were penalized for four false starts and one delay-of-game penalty Sunday.

The reverberations of the subwoofers in the speakers made it difficult to communicate on the sidelines, according to Kelly. Identical equipment was set up on New Orleans' sideline, Saints officials said, but Kelly said the subwoofers on the Saints' sideline appeared disconnected.

After Sunday's game, Green had no complaint about the noise.

''This is a tough place to play,'' Green said. ''It's no different than our place.''

Kelly said he discussed the Saints' moves with Green and Vikings owner Red McCombs, but no complaint had been lodged with the NFL, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday.

''It came up for discussion in a meeting this morning, but we haven't had any complaint'' Aiello said. ''It's my understanding that it was referred to our officials there and was resolved there.''

After New Orleans lost to the Vikings in the Metrodome in January, the Saints joined a list of teams that have complained about noise levels and equipment placement there.

The league previously ordered the Vikings to remove huge speakers from behind the visitors' sideline and ordered the music to stop blasting after visitors left the huddle.

''If the Saints did this in retaliation for perceived slights in the past, then I think that's petty and juvenile, personally,'' Kelly said.''

Haslett said that, after his discussion with Green, he can see where a loud crowd and a little extra sound might provide the Saints a real home-field advantage.

''That's what it takes to win in this business, if you can go 7-1 or 8-0 at home like the good teams do,'' Haslett said. ''If you look at the last few Super Bowl champions in the last five or six years, they're usually 8-0 and 7-1 at home, and either 4-4 or 5-3 on the road. We have to win games at home, we know we're a pretty good road team. We need to win games at home.''

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