A New Orleans Saints fan claiming to be a member of the team was arrested today after police said he repeatedly trespassed on the Saints training facility.
Thomas Morstead, 32, of Metairie, was charged with criminal trespass in the first-degree and one count of disturbing the peace. Officers said Morstead argued that he is a Saints player, though police nor Saints staff have any knowledge of someone on the team under that name.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said Saints personnel noticed a suspicious man early this morning just outside the parking lot for Saints staff and players and alerted the authorities as he continuously attempted to gain entry.
Police said they saw Morstead trying to get access to the property at several restricted areas that require key cards or passcodes. Officers removed Morstead from the area and released him with a warning.
Morstead returned about 10 minutes later despite officers still being on the scene.
Deputies stopped Morstead just outside the facility’s main entrance where the man began acting erratically, claiming he was “meant to be in there” and “had to see coach Payton.”
“He could have pretended to be a practice squad player and we may have been a little less suspicious,” Deputy Erin Flynn, one of the first officers to arrive, said.
“We’re not as familiar with the names of all those guys since the squad is always changing and it’d at least be a possibility that we just didn’t recognize him, but claiming to be one of the starters? Come on, I’m a Saints fan and follow the team closely. So, that obviously was a big red flag.”
Saints personnel told deputies that Morstead was first seen in a vehicle trying to enter the fenced off parking lot where players and staff park their cars when arriving for meetings and practices but he could not get past the electronic gate.
“As the Arrestee tried to gain entrance into the restricted parking lot, Saints personnel observed the Arrestee attempting to use the gate’s keypad multiple times while pointing and throwing his hands in the air in an erratic manner as he was repeatedly denied access,” stated the arrest report.
Morstead, who police officers described as an obsessed Saints fan, then tried to open the gate manually, perhaps in trying to infiltrate the building and get close to the players.
“When asked, the Arrestee stated he was a part of the team — the punter,” read the arrest report.
Saints players and staff, who were inside the facility at the time of the incident preparing for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, weren’t worried.
“They said he was claiming to be our punter,” a laughing Mark Ingram, running back, said.
“I love the passion and drive, but he isn’t our punter. Our punter is what’s his face… number… you know… tall, lanky guy… Seriously, I’m drawing a blank.”
Deputy Flynn said this isn’t the first time Morstead has had a run-in with the Saints.
Morstead has been seen attending Saints games both home and away since 2009, often sneaking his way onto the field unnoticed. After the latest incident, police found several images on his social media accounts of him sleeping in a player’s locker, trying on uniforms, and using the hot tubs, apparently taken overnight when the building was mostly empty, without being caught.
“He’s an obsessed fan who has delusions of actually being on the team,” Deputy Flynn said.
According to the police report, the team declined to pursue the matter and Morstead was released from police custody with all charges dropped.
“Look, I know it’s really exciting with how we’re performing and we understand that different people express their own excitement in different ways,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis noted.
“As the spotlight grows brighter you get an even wider range of fans and that includes some delusional ones, but we absolutely love them all. From what we’ve learned, this particular fan is a standup guy and we’ve always known that the Who Dat Nation has the absolute best fans in the world, even those who may forget to take their meds from time to time.”