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Local fans hoot and holler for their teams

MANATEE — As Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, threw a touchdown pass to running back Pierre Thomas in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts, Elsie Nolan cheered, “They just did it. All right, there they go.”

Nolan, a Saints fan, was enjoying the game on one of the giant screens at Beef O’Brady’s, 6703 Manatee Ave. W., with her friend, Peg McGariety.

Nolan said she was rooting for the Saints because New Orleans went through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and “they deserve some happy times.”

McGariety agreed, saying, “It would be nice to give them something to celebrate again.”

The two women enjoyed dinner at the popular sports pub as they watched the game, with about 30 other customers.

But not all were Saints fans.

Ramon Negrete, who was with family and friends at Beef O’Brady’s taking in the game, said he was hoping the Colts would win, but at halftime he admitted the Saints were playing a good game.

“The Saints are trying,” said Negrete, dressed in his blue-and-white No. 18 Colts jersey, with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s name on the back.

Spencer and Sharon Hudon were also hoping the Colts would win.

“I like Peyton Manning,” Spencer Hudon said. “He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever watched.”

But next year the University of Florida fan said he hopes he’ll be rooting for Tim Tebow, the Gators’ phenomenal quarterback who is awaiting April’s NFL Draft.

Across the table from the Hudons sat their friends, Heather and Robert Campbell, cheering for the Saints.

“They’re the underdogs and have never gotten this far before,” Heather Campbell said.

Pat Goneau, who owns Beef O’Brady’s with his son, Kyle, said there has been a steady stream of costumers all night.

“We’ve had a lot of carry out for parties,” said Goneau, who is from Indiana and was cheering on the Colts.

Down the street at Tequila Beach Sports Grille, 7423 Manatee Ave. W., the good times started at 2 p.m. with a tailgate party in the parking lot, said assistant general manager Fiona Ferrell.

“We’ve had a great day,” Ferrell said. “We had about 200 people out there participating in a football toss, the dunk tank and corn hole toss.

“It’s been fun all day,” she said shortly after the game resumed from the halftime break.

Tom and Julienne McNeil were enjoying the competition on one of several television screens scattered around Tequila Beach but were hoping the Saints could pull it off and win their first Super Bowl trophy.

“They’ve never been to the Super Bowl,” Tom McNeil said, “and after (Hurricane) Katrina they didn’t even have a stadium.”

Cyndi Radford also was on the side of the New Orleans team.

“The Saints all the way, ’cause you can feel the Brees,” Radford cheered confidently while making a play on the name of New Orleans’ quarterback.

But she thought the game was going to be like the whole season, and the winning score would be decided in the last minutes.

Tequila Beach owner Jeremy Runo said it had been a fun day for him and his staff as they kept busy serving they large crowd.

“This is our fourth Super Bowl party,” Runo said. “I think the cool weather hurt a little, but people are still out spending money.”

He said the grill out on the deck has been a popular spot.

“We’ve got dogs, brats, hamburgers and chicken,” Runo said. “The brats have been really hot sellers.”

The action on the field wasn’t the only interest that caught the eyes of the pub partiers. They also were caught up with some of the commercials, which have gained a fan base all their own.

“The commercials are not like they used to be,” said Radford. “I like the older ones better.”

McGariety and Nolan liked the Snickers candy bar ad with Betty White and Abe Vigoda, two older actors who are pummelled as they play a game of football with a much younger crowd.

“And with The Who (a 1960s rock band), they covered all the bases for us,” McGariety said.

The one commercial that was hyped for weeks as being controversial, former Gators quarterback Tebow and his mother’s pro-life message for Focus on the Family, didn’t even get much notice from many in the crowd.

Sharon Hudon said she didn’t think the ad was appropriate for the Super Bowl because of the controversy.

For Tom Manson, the Frito-Lay chip commercial where the dog ends up putting a shock collar on his owner was enough to give him a chuckle.

But more important to Manson was that the Saints won the Super Bowl 31-17.

“They deserve it,” he said just as halftime was over as sipped a brew at O’Brady’s. “The Colts don’t need another win.”