Skip to main content

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

'Red' an apt description of passion Michael Lester Sr. has for New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees

'It's definitely put me on Cloud 9 to know that all these years we've been watching them, he's been watching us grow and see that this is a family tradition'

red-michael-lester-family (1)

"Red" is Michael Lester Sr.

And Lester Sr. is the guy legendary New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees referenced Thursday during Brees' media session at his induction announcement into the Saints Hall of Fame.

"It's amazing to me," Lester said. "Out of 72,000 fans, here he is at his induction speech talking about me.

"It's definitely put me on Cloud 9 to know that all these years we've been watching them, he's been watching us grow and see that this is a family tradition."

But then, it probably shouldn't have been much of a surprise. Brees' awareness is legendary so, of course, he'd notice a consistent presence during his countless hours of study.

"When we would watch film, and our home game film from the Superdome, you have camera angles – you have one from the sideline, one from the end zone, but then they would flash to the scoreboard to show you the down and distance and time of the game," Brees said. "So, you were kind of getting that quick flash to the scoreboard and then back down to the field.

"And there was this guy, we called him 'Red,' because he had red hair. And Red – from 2006 until 2020 when I was here – Red had these season tickets that literally sat right behind the scoreboard. So we saw Red.

"And then all of a sudden, Red has a Little Red. And then, that Little Red is like, a Medium Red. And then it's like, a Big Red. So it's like, we're watching Red's family, like, grow here. Like we're playing a board game or something.

"But that's just a perfect example of those moments, and there were probably countless others in the stands where this became something that they shared with their loved ones and their families, and their kids grew up in it. Now we've got lifelong Saints fans. That's the way it should be."

That's the way it has been for "Red" and his family.

Lester currently lives in Holden, La., but originally is from New Orleans and lived on North Rampart Street. He owns N'Awlins Sports and his son, 14-year-old Michael Jr., and daughter, 10-year-old Alexis, began attending Saints games at the ages of four weeks (Michael Jr.) and two weeks (Alexis) old.

Lester Sr. said he has had tickets since 1994 or '95, and settled in the current location – Section 237, row 1, seats 3-4 and row 2, seats 1-4 – in 2001 or '02, after having sat in various locations around the Caesars Superdome.


"I've told people, I feel like I have the best seat in the house," he said. "Those seats, you see the plays develop – it's just become a great thing. That scoreboard has changed over the years. Before, it was flat and then it went to a curved after Hurricane Katrina. Just to sit there over the years and beat on that scoreboard and cheer the Saints on, it's just been a phenomenon for sure."

Michael Jr. and Alexis never have missed a Saints home game, but Michael Sr. had his streak broken on Oct. 23, 2011, by a medical emergency.

He had a hole in his colon, nearly went into septic shock and died. He had surgery to correct the issue, but a bad reaction after surgery extended his hospital stay. He was aiming for a release on Sunday morning for the prime-time game – he said his doctor was aware that he'd never missed a game and had hoped to help him keep alive the streak – but wisdom prevailed and he remained.

The Saints beat the Colts 62-7 that night.

Lester requested that nurses take care of all blood drawings and such before the game, so as to not disturb him during the game, but the excitement of the blowout had him pressing the button requesting assistance from the nursing station after the win.

"I'm pretty sure I ripped a few stitches," he said, laughing.

Brees ripped apart the Colts' defense, completing 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions. Red wasn't there to bang on the scoreboard, but it wouldn't have been a shock if Brees noticed he wasn't there.

"I've been a diehard fan my entire life," Lester said. "When Drew Brees said that it was like, 'Wow. All these years I've been watching Drew, Drew's been watching me.'

"He sees that there's this tradition that's going on. And, yes, this is where I connect with my kids. Literally, this is the reason I went into business (in 1999). I was a diehard Saints fan. It wasn't for money, it was for the passion and the love that I have for the Saints."

Related Content