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Football fan-atics

Crisp fall breezes waft the smell of finger-lickin’ barbecue. The braggin’ about who’s gonna do what already has begun. Splashes of team spirit are sprinkled around every neighborhood. We are ready for some FOOTBALL.

This time of year brings out the football fan in all of us — some a little more than others. You know the ones we’re talking about. They are reserved, respectable and sweet natured during the week, but come game day, they turn into wild, crazy people. Who would have thought they could scream so loudly.

The female fanatics have many girlfriends, but they have no time for femininity in these serious matters and just would rather sit with the guys.

'Football just grows on ya’ — then you get obsessed'

Nina Rosskopf, 41, of Gulfport has a long history of being a Saints fan. She grew up watching and rooting for the team with her parents. Now a stay-at-home mom, she has been a very loyal fan, enduring their hard knocks through the years. She has really enjoyed watching their recent success.

Rosskopf loves the excitement of the game. She says you just never know minute to minute what is going happen.

In preparation for game days, she hangs the “gris-gris” as she calls it. This is a huge black-and-gold Saints mask placed on her front door. A garland of black-and-gold feathered boas flank it.

For the important games though, she and her friends host a game-day party at Bayou Bluff Tennis Club. The fare is potluck, and children are welcome. They pull chairs from the dining room to watch the game on the big screens. When things get really heated, they have been known to bless their seats with holy water — just for a little extra “Saints” support.

Rosskopf stats

Favorite team: Saints

Favorite player(s): Drew Brees, quarterback (but she has an eye on Garrett Hartley, kicker)

Best game ever watched: Saints versus Colts, Super Bowl XLIV

Game-day preparation: Hang the “gris-gris” and say a prayer

Craziest game-day behavior: Helping friends bless theirs stools with holy water

'I scream constantly throughout the game'

Kim Ladner, 41, of Biloxi runs her own business from home while taking care of her three daughters. She has been a Louisiana State University fan all of her life. Her parents and she and her husband attended school there.

She is a very intense fan, screaming throughout the games as she watches them on weekends with family and friends.

To get ready, she and her husband, Todd, set out yard decorations, including an 8-foot inflatable of Mike the tiger, LSU’s mascot. Next, they don their LSU outfit of the day. For Ladner, it’s a shirt or jersey to match her silver LSU earrings. Her daughters wear full cheerleading outfits with matching hair bows.

Finally, the LSU camp chairs and floor mats are set up on their screened-in back porch. The Ladners and their friends watch the game while grilling on the deck.

Ladner stats

Favorite team: Louisiana State University

Favorite player(s): All of them

Best game ever watched: LSU versus Tennessee, 2001 SEC Championship

Game-day preparation: Sets up an 8-foot inflatable of Mike the LSU tiger on the front lawn,br/>Craziest game-day behavior: Screams constantly

Brenda Walker, 54, of Biloxi enjoys all outdoor sports, but she loves the excitement of football. Many of her friends think football is a social event, but not her; she’s in it for the game.

Walker became a Southern Miss fan early in life. Not only did she and her husband attend USM, but her parents and children did, too. They are a Southern Miss family.

Walker, now retired, attends all of the games in Hattiesburg and away. She has even been known to charter buses for the far-away games..

To get ready for these games, she gets busy organizing some serious tailgating. She gathers with a group of six RV owners, known as the Gulf Coast Eagles’ nest, before the games.

During the summer before the season starts, she works on a mailer that goes out to 30 families. Each tailgate party has a theme; the mailer reminds them of the theme for each party.

On game day, Walker and her posse set up tents and tables. They plan for about 150-200 people who may stumble upon their party.

All the while, she maintains her Southern hospitality by inviting fans from the other teams to join them. She’s even had them judge her group’s barbecue cook-off.

Walker stats

Favorite team: University of Southern Mississippi

Favorite player(s): Damien Fletcher, running back

Best game ever watched: Southern Miss versus Texas Christian University, GMAC Bowl 2000

Game-day preparation: Tailgates with six other RV owners in Hattiesburg

Craziest game-day behavior: Donning sweatshirts at the Papa John Bowl that read, “We love Jeff,” after USM fired Coach Jeff Bower.