NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The Saints fan who has been publicly criticized for catching the Bengals touchdown ball tossed in the stand during Sunday’s game is breaking his silence.
Tony Williams says he never planned to be at the center of controversy.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to him about the interception that's getting national attention.
"First of all I would like to say to the people of New Orleans I really wasn't trying to put the city down and make the city look bad. I love this city," Tony Williams explained.
And this football enthusiast loves the Saints.
Tony Williams says he's been a season ticket holder since 1968.
The 70-years old has recently come under fire for "poor sportsmanship," after snagging a ball tossed into the stands Sunday at the Superdome.
Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham appeared to be targeting Christa Barrett, but Williams says the interception has made him out to be a villain.
"And he's really not a bad guy. He's a loving, caring husband, father, grandfather," wife Minnie Williams said.
"Everyone is saying I elbowed the lady but I really didn't I turned away from the lady," Tony Williams said.
He says he didn't steal the ball from Barrett nor did he physically move her out of the way.
Instead he says he used his body as a shield.
"It’s a free for all, something like with Mardi Gras. When a coconut is tossed or beads are tossed everybody goes for it," his wife added.
Williams says in his 46-years as a season ticket holder he's caught the ball three other times; and he couldn't have done it passively.
"Because if I would have been I wouldn't have gotten the ball, simple as that."
But he says he wasn't trying to hurt anyone.
He compares fans in the stand to revelers along a Mardi Gras parade route.
Everyone positions themselves to catch whatever is tossed their way.
"That’s what we do down there because we're all on the first row. We have a chance to get the ball. When it comes our way we jockey for the ball. That's it."
Trotter asked, "Do you remember her saying anything to you? She was pleading for me to give her the ball and I said no ma'am I’m keeping the ball," Williams replied.
He says this forth souvenir is for his grandson.
"He’s 8-years old and he plays football for Lakeview Park."
Williams went on to say that he is surprised and a "little hurt" by the harsh comments circulating.
Still he says doesn't regret a thing, and is non-apologetic because he doesn't think he did anything wrong.