Blind Faith: Visually-impaired man, friend share undeniable love for Saints football
GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Gretna, on a Sunday, sounds just like everywhere else in Louisiana, when the Saints are playing.
But, what makes this house stand out, are the characters that give it life
"What a Sunday I'm having," said Andre Fontan, who along with Willie Mullen, became friends long before they discovered each was a Saints fan.
"I'm a true Saints fan, bro. Know that Willie? I'm a true Saints fan. Yeah you're a true Saints fan," said Willie.
And Saints games are a big part of their Sunday routine...
"Saints ain't playing. Sure ain't playing. They handling their business. That's what I like," said Fontan.
Side by side on game day, Andre and Willie follow every move that the Saints make on the field, on their TV.
These two guys share an affinity for the black and gold. But, in some ways, they couldn't be more different.
Willie's the quiet type. Andre, not so much. But, its how their relationship has been built over the many years. They've been roommates at the St. Rosalie Community House going on three decades now. That's a lot of Sunday afternoons spent turning down their televisions and turning up Saints radio.
"Jim Henderson handles his business very well," said Andre. "It gives me a clear picture of what's happening and going on with the Saints."
A clearer picture because Andre was born blind and ever since he's had to depend on others to paint the picture. At St. Rosalie, Willie has the brush.
"We met in 87," said Andre. "Been with me a long time. Good friend that's all," said Willie. The less said, the more that's understood between the two.
You see, roommates begin to feel like family, if you're around each other long enough, which these two are. And this pairing, St. Rosalies house, got right, from the start. They're practically inseparable. Especially on Saints game days. Assuming their spot on the sofa, Willie's eyes fixed on the tv. Andre's ears tuned into the radio. Between the two of them, nothing escapes a mention.
"Oh yeah bring Cam Newton down bring him down", Andre yells at the radio. "How you like that Willie. The Saints at seven and the Panthers chicken eggs, haha!"
Growing up in Gentilly, it was noticed right away that there was something different, yet special about Andre. He became a Saints fan at an early age because his dad was one. But, that's just the tip of iceberg when it comes to understanding what Andre's interested in. For one, he loves music. Seventies music seems to be his first love. He also loves travel and he's been a bunch of places. The pictures in his photo album tell much of his life's story.
"Yeah, I went to Vegas for myself. It is beautiful," said Andre. "Went to Hoover Damn last November. I got to see it." And Andre knows a lot of facts about a lot of things. It's what 'savants' do.
He hasn't been officially diagnosed as one, but, all the signs say he is. His ability to recall dates, times, events, etc. leave you speechless. And yes, he knows everything about the Saints. From historic moments to the revolving door of head coaches along the way to the most memorable moments.
"They beat Vikings 31-28. That was January 24, 2010. Two weeks later, the Saints went to Super Bowl and won their first one 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts baby."
And Andre believes that the Saints will win the Super Bowl again some day and when they do, it's a good bet that these two will be where they always are. On the couch, watching and listening. After-all, it's their game day routine.
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