The video of this ball snatching has gone viral. In fact, it created such a stir during the game that an executive with Saints punter Thomas Morstead’s foundation eventually gave Barrett a signed football as a consolation prize. It was a classy move by the foundation, but the damage had already been done. Yesterday, Keith Olbermann of ESPN addressed the topic on his show and labeled Williams as the “Worst Person in the World.”
The video has been a sensation because Williams acted in such a brazen and cavalier manner. Needless to say, it sends the wrong message about Saints fans. This is not how our fans treat those who support opposing NFL teams. New Orleans is a city built on the hospitality industry, we are known by our kindness toward others, our goodwill, not boorish and rude behavior. While Barrett is a not a tourist, she is a newcomer to New Orleans and the treatment she received on Sunday is not how we should treat those just arriving in the city.
To make matters even worse, Williams is a former King of Zulu, one of our premier carnival organizations. He claimed that he stole the ball because his “Mardi Gras instinct” took over; however, this is exactly the opposite of what Mardi Gras is all about. The carnival celebration is not about stealing, it is about giving. During the Mardi Gras season, thousands of float riders spend tens of millions of dollars to give residents and tourists the “greatest free show on earth.” No respectable member of any carnival organization, above all the former King of Zulu, should condone stealing a Mardi Gras throw, such as a Zulu coconut, away from a parade spectator, especially a woman.
At the game, Williams acted like the street thugs who follow parades and knock over people to retrieve beads and other throws. Just like Tony Williams, they give the great celebration of Mardi Gras a bad name.
Laughably, Williams said he was “hurt” at being portrayed on the Internet as a jerk, but, sadly, he earned that reputation. If he had any class he would have apologized for his behavior and given the football to the young woman, just as the surrounding fans were imploring him to do. At the very least, he should have let her take a picture with the ball. Instead, he just turned his back to her and rebuffed her requests.
Williams claimed he stole the ball because he wanted to give it to his grandson. Yet, what a horrible lesson this grandfather is teaching to the youngster. By elbowing a woman and stealing a football meant for someone else, Williams is teaching his grandson that crime pays. As nicely summarized by Gresham, Tony Williams should be “ashamed of himself.”