Atlanta mayor responds to criticism after saying 'anybody other than the Saints' for Super Bowl

There’s nothing wrong with a sports rivalry, as long as it doesn’t cross the line. And the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have a great rivalry.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said about the possible participants in Super Bowl LIII, which will be held in Atlanta, that she wanted “anybody other than the Saints.”

Well, yeah. Maybe there are some stray Saints fans living in Atlanta, but presumably everyone else in Atlanta agrees with the mayor. It was a little odd for a politician to say that before welcoming the world to her city for the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t wrong. In fact, fans in New Orleans probably respected it, in a way.

Nevertheless, she had to explain Wednesday that it was a joke, like most sane people didn’t know that already.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had a message for Saints fans who might be coming to Super Bowl LIII, if New Orleans wins the NFC. (AP)
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had a message for Saints fans who might be coming to Super Bowl LIII, if New Orleans wins the NFC. (AP)

Atlanta mayor: ‘Anybody other than the Saints’

Here was Bottoms’ initial comment, made to Terrell Thomas of These Urban Times. And extra credit for the callback to the Saints’ “bountygate” scandal.

“Just anybody other than the Saints. I know there’s going to be a bounty on my head for saying that,” Bottoms said. “But, if it can’t be the Falcons, then hey, as long as it’s not the Saints then I am happy.”

And, proving that New Orleans understands where she was coming from, New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks shot back and referenced the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

“I’m sorry she feels that way. We would welcome them here,” Banks told the New Orleans Advocate. “At the end of the day they shouldn’t be mad at us that they suck.

“It’s not our fault that they choked.”

If you can’t appreciate the back-and-forth, you likely aren’t a sports fan. But Bottoms, being a politician, had to clarify her comments.

Atlanta mayor welcomes all fans, even Saints fans

Bottoms joked at the start of a press conference that she needed “extra security because of these New Orleans fans that I seemed to have offended.”

“So before we get to the real stuff, let me explain: it was a joke,” she said, according to WWL. “But I don’t know of a Falcons fan who wants to see New Orleans and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.”

Bottoms then said she was thankful for everyone who would come to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. Even Saints fans.

The possibility of the Saints invading Atlanta for a Super Bowl, and even using the Falcons facilities for the week as NFC champs, is a fun twist to the old rivalry. Bottoms has nothing to explain; we all know who Atlanta will be rooting for in the Super Bowl if the Saints win on Sunday.

More Saints news from Yahoo

More from Yahoo Sports:
Report: Tourney nixes Ball’s team after $10K request
Bob Costas announces his NBC career is over
Deion Sanders has some advice for Heisman winner
’96 World Series MVP charged with child sex abuse

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

Subscribe to The Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast
Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Podcasts