Is New Orleans ready to reopen?
The nation’s economy in a free-fall. The death toll continues to shock and climb day after day. All communities are debating if and when it should abandon their severe lockdowns and return to a more restricted business-as-unusual. Currently, the United States is facing an unimaginable 20 percent unemployment. Yet, the deaths now hovering over 80,000. Some experts predict that by Memorial Day, an unthinkable 100,000 people will have died as a result of the coronavirus.
As you know by now, the Saints will host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in a game that will break the tie for the NFC’s top seed. Both teams are 10-2 after the Niners lost at Baltimore and the Saints avenged an earlier loss by defeating the Falcons Thanksgiving night. Beating the Falcons anytime, especially after that Week 10 upset, is sweet, but I was looking ahead to this week for a special reason. I hate the 49ers.
A remarkable thing occurred this past weekend that should have raised the eyebrows of any fan who has questioned the skill, the intentions and probably the heritage of NFL game officials. On Saturday, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association reached agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that goes through the 2025 season. The current deal was set to expire next May. No information was given on improved methods of training or rules reviews or even the hands-off conversation of full-time officials. Nothing other than the subliminal news that the quality of officiating you have been seeing is the same quality of officiating that you will be seeing forthwith.
Refs try to rub it in, but this time Saints prevail
The first week of the NFL season has come and gone, and not much has changed. The Browns are still terrible, the Patriots are still dominating, we still have whack-jobs by the basketful, and game officials still shoot themselves in the foot, as we saw on Monday Night Football.
If the name Steve Scaffidi doesn’t ring a bell, just picture the old silent movie clip of the bulldog who grabs the pants leg of a bank robber and won’t let go until the police arrive. That isn’t too far off the New Orleans filmmaker’s goal, which is to grab the pants leg of Roger Goodell and hold on until the whole story behind the infamous no-call that may have cost the Saints a Super Bowl championship is told. And Scaffidi wants to tell it.
How much longer can Drew Brees defy the age line?
I am writing this missive while sitting on a heating pad. I was lacing up my golf shoes this morning when I felt a twinge in my left side along the belt line. It wasn’t bad but it was annoying, especially since I had already completed my stretching followed by my three-mile Old Fartlek run-walk-run, all without incident.
Last week, a reporter for a local television station called, asking my reaction to the Saints’ $100 million, five-year extension for WR Michael Thomas. Of course, he didn’t get me the first time he called - I was on the golf course and the phone was muffled - so he left a message. That gave me some time to think about it, so after I finished playing I went home to prepare before I called him back.
by Jim Miller
Only New Orleans can turn abject disappointment into a party.
Of course, just about anything that happens in New Orleans is reason enough for a party. Even deaths are celebrated by jazz funerals in which the sorrow of passing is replaced by a celebration of a life well lived. And that’s what happened Sunday when thousands of fans turned off their televisions and descended downtown to protest the game they should have been in. The impromptu Blackout and Gold parade marchers second-lined at Jackson Square, down Canal and Poydras streets and gathered at Fulton Street in a massive display of anger. And the world noticed, especially after a relatively dull Super Bowl that featured the least points and the most punts in the game’s 53-year history.
The New Orleans Saints have been in operation for 51 years and have only delivered one Super Bowl championship to their faithful fans. Nevertheless, the most loyal fans in the world still bleed black and gold and are passionate about supporting their team. Maybe it was because of the fact the team was announced on All-Saints Day in 1966 but supporting the team has become a religious experience.
There are three ways to lose a game. First, you get beat by a better team. You can understand that and you go back to the drawing board to get better. Second, you can lose a game with poor execution or an ill-timed mistake. But stuff happens and you can understand that. Third and the worst of all is when you do nothing wrong, your execution is good enough to win but you get it taken away from you. And that’s the one you can’t understand nor forgive. And that’s what happened to the Saints Sunday in the Superdome.