Friday, September 22, 2006

How wude

The Bengals and Steelers this weekend renew the rivalry that wasn't really a rivalry until about a year ago when the former team decided to be good again after 15 seasons of NFL laughingstockery.

Much of the attention lavished upon the resurgent Bengals has focused on the Chad Johnson New Millennium Minstrel Show and the loverly Cincinnati ghetto anthem "Who Dey?" Setting aside the obvious debt the chant owes to JT Money's painful 1999 semi-hit "Who Dat," it wasn't immediately clear to what it was referring.

Was it a vaguely self-deprecating inquiry of just who these gang of upstarts are that are lifting playoffward a team with a dismal recent history? Was it an attempt to brush up on their knowledge of the history of the Ottoman Empire? Sadly, instead, the complete chant, "Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey, think they gonna beat them Bengals?" decodes as something to the effect of, "I say! Who are these ruffians, who, in their temerity, believe themselves capable of besting our squadron in a contest of American footballing?"

How these Bungalites took umbrage when their noble, solemn cry was co-opted by one of their arch-villains, Trap-Jaw. But, as these things go, the mocking of "Who Dey?" has turned into that most boomeranging (read: overblown) influences - bulletin board material - The Cincinnati Enquirer explains:

Cowher first borrowed the line in the postgame celebration after the
Steelers defeated the Bengals 31-17 in an AFC wild card playoff game Jan. 8 at
Paul Brown Stadium.

"Who dey?" he yelled to his players.

"We dey," they screamed back in unison.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a Cowher assistant coach for four seasons in Pittsburgh, showed film of Cowher's cheer Wednesday morning to his players.

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson saw the video Wednesday for the first time. "I didn't like it," Johnson said. "It was very rude."

Johnson later said the actions of the Pittsburgh fans were "not cricket and rather unsporting...HUGH!!!!"

He then wandered off aimlessly to, he said, prepare an endzone celebration involving a Terrible Towel, a Segway, some parkour kids and the corpse of recently deceased Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor.


Jethrie said...

Who-dey actually started in the 1980's. Here's a link for the history of it.

It is a little odd considering the city's troubled race relations. The Chad stuff smacks a little of "Bamboozeled"

Zach Landres-Schnur said...

is the black face routine next? they're getting awfully close to that line they shouldn't cross.

Roy Hobbs said...

Who Dey actually was stolen from the Saints, who had implemented Who Dat a decade or so before Bengals fans, waking up before 11 AM for the first time in a generation, changed two letters and appropriated the phrase to themselves.

And the answer, regardless of who is asking the question, is We Dey.

Jethrie said...

The Saints started using Who Dat in 83. The Bengals started Who-Dey in 81. The answer to the question is still: Nobody.

jeffrey said...

Actually, "who dat" is a linguistic construction closely tied to the cultural heritage of New Orleans and the history of jazz music and African-American speech in general. The cheer "who dat say dey gonna beat..." grew up naturally around New Orleans high school football and Southern University football during the 60s and 70s before being adopted by Saints fans.
"Who Dey" is a culturally insensitive ripoff by ignorant Northerners who have typically (and in a borderline racist fashion) appropriated a piece of New Orleans culture for their own amusement. Most Saints fans consider it a greivous insult.