Thursday, 28 July 2016 11:46

Arnie Fielkow: A Saint, a New Orleans hero, a man standing tall among giants at NBRPA

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fielkow saints 2As the New Orleans Saints now begins its 10th year since returning back to the city after the devastations of Hurricane Katrina, there are few people who will long be remembered as a symbol of resilience, defiance and determination as one man, Arnie Fielkow.

After the 2005 hurricane, the Superdome was not usable, the team had to relocate for the upcoming season.  The owner Tom Benson, at the time, expressed interest in moving the team.


Image: Holy Moses, unofficial Saints Mascot, campaigns for Fielkow after Hurricane Katrina, from

Fielkow, who was the most-high-profiled front office executive, at the time, objected to the notion of a possible permanent move, reportedly refused to sign a confidentiality agreement and a resignation.  He was abruptly and publicly fired.

The outcry was significant.  The entire city was dislocated, many residents could not return back home for many months and some for years.   Virtually the entire city and adjacent parishes had to be repaired and rebuilt. 

Being hit by a once-in-a-lifetime natural and manmade disaster (levee breaks) was one thing.  Losing a major symbol of international entertainment and identity was another.

The city was broken.  It was not going to lose hope.  Nor was it going to lose its love and its sense of civic pride personified by the New Orleans Saints.

Fielkow went on to run for political office and became a city councilman and later Council President.  The difficulties for him and all involved, to help build the community was enormous.  In fact, in many ways, it was unspeakable.

Months later, Benson, had a change in heart thanks to the then-Commissioner Paul Taglibue.

And, thanks to many, especially Governor Kathleen Blanco, the Superdome was repaired and renovated right in time for the 2006 season.  In the very first game back in the dome, Steve Gleason blocked an Atlanta Falcon punt, which resulted in a touchdown against the Saints’s rival.  The rag-tag team of new players won the game.  Fielkow’s defiance in the face of a storm of business furies, his decision to become a city political leader and symbol of resilience along with the block heard around the world, have been symbolic in returning the city and the team back from drowned and the dead.

The Saints team, completely overhauled with new faces such as Drew Brees, Sean Payton, maintained the inspiration of a community of rebirth.  Only three years later, it played in, and won its very first Super Bowl in its history.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, it is very difficult to raise a family on a council, even a council President’s salary and Fielkow, being an attorney and a known commodity in the world of professional sports, left the city after being hired to became the head of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, an organization that represents and includes a substantial number of now-retired professional basketball players.

The organization obviously sought a giant of a man to operate an organization populated by giants.  It also seems to be a perfect fit.

Fielkow dedicated his life to rebuild New Orleans and provide a sense of community for those in need.

The NBA Retired Players Association does exactly that.  It helps those who have lived a lifetime of glory while returning love, programs and resources to communities, helpless and in need.

One of those communities has been New Orleans, which Fielkow has not forgotten.  Not only has he returned to the city for visits, he has led the effort to connect the professional basketball top players alumni to serve those who need a bounce in life and a helping hand.

Fielkow, even organized and helped fund the JackFielkowScholarship Program, named after the lateJackFielkow, his father.  TheScholarship program funds two $2,000 college scholarships annually, one awarded to a participant from the MLB Urban Youth Academy and one from the New Orleans-based mentoring program, Each One Save One

It was my please to revisit with Fielkow via Facebook Live video broadcast, Wednesday.  The initial topic of discussion was his organization agreeing with the NBA’s decision to pull the upcoming NBA All Star game from Charlotte North Carolina.  

In addition, we talked about his organization, its purpose, membership and related topics.

Above are snippets (1 and 2) from the Facebook Live iinterviews.   Click on the top left to toggle from the first and second video.  Also, to read the transcripts of the videos, if the closed caption does not readily appear, please click on the CC symbol under the video.

Also in the playlist are other related videos from the past. Those do not have transcript closed caption.

 In video, Fielkow describes his organization, which has been around for 25 years, has become a full service organization for members of the NBA, Harlem Globetrotters, ABA and the Women’s National Basketball Association.  It’s members include the greats, such as, Michael Jordan, Kareem,  Rick Perry and  Spencer Heywood.  In the interview, Fielkow explained the role the organization plays throughout the world.  Fielkow also announced that his organization, that very day, has just signed a deal with the NBA.

In the second video, Fielkow described the decision of the NBA to remove its annual classic from Charlotte.  One of the cities reportedly in the running is New Orleans.  


Tomorrow’s segment: How his organization is helping people around the world and particularly, the youth in the rebuilt City of New Orleans.


Last modified on Thursday, 28 July 2016 12:16
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