Mall Cops Tried To Stop Saints’ Game-Winning Kicker From Entering Field, Then Questioned Him Again After Game

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NEW ORLEANS – There is a potentially catastrophic policemen shortage in New Orleans with less than 1,000 officers after 1,106 in 2015 and 1,742 before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But there was no shortage of perhaps overly zealous security – aka mall cops – at the Caesars Superdome on Sunday when the Saints hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in a preseason game.

Saints’ Security Hassled Hero Kicker Blake Grupe

Dome security tried to stop Saints’ rookie kicker Blake Grupe (pronounced groupie) from entering the field because he didn’t have a credential. Players do not wear credentials. The uniform usually does the trick.

Thank goodness, security eventually let him in. Because Grupe kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Saints a 26-24 win. Teammates carried him off the field on their shoulders – bypassing security apparently.

Then after the game, security tried to stop Grupe from going through a players-only exit. Perhaps it is because Grupe looks much younger than his 24 years.

Grupe is listed on the Saints’ roster as only 5-foot-7 and 156 pounds. And he could be smaller than that, as NFL rosters tend to extend the truth.

Had the dome security officials done a background check, they would have learned that Grupe is an accomplished kicker. He hit 14 of 19 field goals at Notre Dame last season and made 49 of 49 extra points.

Saints’ Kicker Made A Name For Himself In College

Grupe is also the leading scorer in the history of Arkansas State football. A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Grupe scored 354 points at Arkansas State on 64 field goals and 162 extra points from 2017-21. He hit 20 of 25 field goals in the 2021 season there.

The Saints signed Grupe on April 30, 2023. He is currently backing up regular kicker Wil Lutz, who kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead in the second quarter Sunday.

Grupe Made The Most Of His Opportunity

“It was nice to see Grupe get a chance to get to kick in that situation and be able to knock it through,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said Sunday.

Blake Grupe took it in stride, which he did well on the winning kick.

“Stay humble. Thankful. Great team win,” he said on his Twitter.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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