ATLANTA (WWL-TV) — The Mayor of Atlanta had some explaining to do on Tuesday after her “anybody other than the Saints” comment garnered national attention ahead of the Super Bowl.
Last week, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was asked which two teams she would like to see Atlanta host in Super Bowl LIII on February 3.
“Just anybody other than the Saints. I know there’s going to be a bounty on my head for saying that,” Bottoms said while smiling. “But, if it can’t be the Falcons, then hey, as long as it’s not the Saints then I am happy.”
A bounty on her head, indeed. The jab at New Orleans received immediate backlash, and on Tuesday at a pre-Super Bowl press conference Bottoms took a moment to explain her answer.
“When we planned this press conference I didn’t know I was going to need extra security because of these New Orleans fans that I seemed to have offended,” Bottoms said with laughter.
“So before we get to the real stuff, let me explain: it was a joke,” she said. “But I don’t know of a Falcons fan who wants to see New Orleans and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.”
Putting aside her city’s rivalry, Bottoms offered an olive branch to welcome everyone to Atlanta in the coming weeks.
“We are so very thankful for those who come to Atlanta for this Super Bowl. In all seriousness, that includes Patriots fans, that includes New Orleans fans, that includes whoever may be in town,” Bottoms said. “We’re very honored to host this event that will be viewed by the entire world.”
The Saints marched one step closer to the Super Bowl Sunday after defeating the defending champions Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans will now host the NFC title game against the Los Angeles Rams, with the winner going to the Super Bowl in Atlanta. It will be the first time that Atlanta will host the championship in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that opened in 2017.