It's likely that you didn't believe when you saw it happen. A grown man, pouting about his team losing at home, decided that he wanted to bully a female fan of the opposing team because this was "his house". Don't men from the south pride themselves on being gentlemen? Well, not the case for New Orleans uber-fan, Tony Williams.
Christa Barrett is the distraught young lady that you see as Williams snags the ball away from her. "We were planning on running down to the field or as far as we could get when the Bengals scored a touchdown and hopefully try and get the ball," she said, according to CBS 4 in New Orleans. Barrett was originally from Kentucky and has recently moved to New Orleans, keeping her Bengals fandom intact. It's because of her rooting for the opposition that seemed to not sit well with Williams.
"Honestly, I know the pictures looked a lot worse than it really was," Barrett said. "I think it was just think an honest fight for the ball and he got it before I did.
"It wasn't like I got any bruises or anything like that."
Barrett, along with most of the surrounding Saints fans, pleaded with Williams to give the ball to its intended target. However, he was having none of it.
"It was intense! The whole crowd was chanting for the Saints fan to give the Bengals fan the ball, but he wouldn't budge," said WWLTV producer Sofia Hackett, who was sitting directly behind Williams. "She was very gracious and even apologized to the man, saying she didn't mean for it to get so out of hand."
Williams repeatedly rebuffed Barrett's pleas, though, and was steadfast in his decision to keep the ball for himself.
"Honestly, we sat back down and all we wanted was a picture with the ball after he took it," she said. "We asked if we could get a picture with the ball and he just kept saying 'No ma'am. No, ma'am.'"
After the moment started gaining national momentum and Williams was beginning to usurp Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham as "The Villain", the Saints organization quickly made a dash for a PR rescuing move. A Saints representative visited Barrett at her seat and handed her a ball of her very own. "I think it was a great show of sportsmanship…and it was amazing that (the Saints) did that," she said. "Everyone was on our side, saying to give (us ) the ball," Barrett said.
Sitting near Barrett was Dennis Lomonaco, who happens to run a charity through Saints punter Thomas Morstead's foundation. Lomonaco was also keen to Barrett's plight and offered her another ball, signed by Morstead. Barrett said that she was flattered, but declined and wanted that gesture to go to more charitable causes. Lomonaco said that they will be donating a football through the Thomas Morstead Foundation to a child at a nearby hospital in Barrett's name.
As for the her new-found popularity, Barrett is shocked, saying: "We had no idea (it had gone viral)," Barrett said. "I'm a little thrown off by it."
And for those wondering, Gresham heard about the hubbub later in the day. Big No 84 decided to be very anti-villain with a tweet he sent out to Christa's sister, Cara (who was with her at the game) on Sunday after the win:
@PrincipalCara Truly sorry about you guys not getting that ball. I'll make sure you guys receive something greater for compensation.— Jermaine Gresham (@JGresham84) November 16, 2014