By Michael Inbar contributor

The New Orleans Saints have long been near and dear to Floellen Rickard’s heart. But for more than five anxious hours, they were in her stomach as well.

Going quickly from “Who dat?” to “Yikes!”, Saints fan Rickard accidentally downed one of her prized earrings in the shape of the Saints’ fleur-de-lis emblem.

It’s a story that’s hard to swallow, and for Rickard, it made for hours of anxiety in the days leading up to the Saints’ historic Super Bowl victory Sunday, the team’s first in its 43-year history.

Talking with Al Roker on TODAY Tuesday along with her husband Dan, Rickard said the family are longtime Saints boosters and season ticket holders. Rare is the day Rickard’s not sporting her fleur-de-lis earrings, but on Feb. 1, her fandom and her health regimen collided.

“I put my earrings on my nightstand the night before and I forgot that I put them there,” Rickard, proudly wearing a Saints football jersey, told Roker. “So the following night, when I put my vitamins on my nightstand, I grabbed them and happened to swallow an earring along with my vitamins.”


The pointy fleur-de-lis edges immediately stabbed at Rickard’s throat, and she alerted her husband. “I was thinking, ‘I don’t have an answer for this,’ so I called 911,” Dan Rickard said.

But even in this hazardous predicament, his wife kept her beloved Saints first and foremost in her mind. “I was trying to figure out exactly how bad this was going to be, and Flo was primarily concerned whether she would get the earring back so she could wear it for the Super Bowl,” Dan said.
When the Rickards got to the hospital, the medical personnel had a few chuckles about Floellen being a Saints fan inside and out — the fleur-de-lis showed up prominently on her X-ray. They believed they could dislodge the earring

from her throat in minutes, but no such luck.

Suddenly things didn’t seem so funny. Dan said Floellen got a bit panicky when doctors tried inserting a tube down her throat to pluck the earring out. They tried for an hour, but by then the earring had traveled down toward Floellen’s stomach.

Floellen had to be put under anesthesia while doctors pumped her stomach — time was now of the essence, since the sharp object was headed to her lower intestine, where it could do some serious damage. Fortunately, the earring was retrieved and reunited with its thankful owner when she came to.

Even before the earring incident, the Rickards’ devotion to the Saints had been steadfast. As season ticket holders, they sat through year after year of losing seasons.

In 1992 the family relocated to Michigan for work, returning to the Big Easy a decade later. They spent four years on a waiting list to regain their season tickets before finally scoring them last summer — just in time for the Saints’ amazing run to their first Super Bowl.

In fact, it was the excitement over the team’s maiden journey to the big game that likely caused Floellen to swallow the Saints emblem in the first place. She told TODAY that she had attended a monster bash honoring the Saints in New Orleans with some 85,000 others, and she was “exhausted” when she got home and wound up inadvertently gulping down the earring.

She told Roker she’s learned her lesson.

“Next time, put my earrings in the jewelry box where they belong,” Floellen said. “Don’t ever leave them on the end table. And check my vitamins before I swallow them.”