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My front row seat to the Golden Age of New Orleans sports

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; When I joined The Times-Picayune in 1999, I couldn’t pronounce Tchoupitoulas much less spell it. I had visited New Orleans a few times to cover sporting events at previous stops in my newspaper career but knew little about this alluring, ...

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Old 06-30-2019, 08:02 AM   #1
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When I joined The Times-Picayune in 1999, I couldn’t pronounce Tchoupitoulas much less spell it.

I had visited New Orleans a few times to cover sporting events at previous stops in my newspaper career but knew little about this alluring, mysterious place. I had no clue what a Picayune was. I just knew I desperately wanted to work there.

For ink-stained wretches like myself, the Times-Pic was the gold standard in Louisiana. Any reporter worth his or her salt knew the T-P was a destination location, a bastion of journalistic credibility.

I wrote my first story for the T-P before I even lived in Louisiana. My bosses shipped a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer from New Orleans to Nashville, Tennessee, and I dutifully drove to Birmingham, Ala., to cover SEC Media Days. A month later, I moved to Baton Rouge to cover what would be Gerry DiNardo’s last season as coach of the LSU Tigers.

In my first six months on the job, I covered DiNardo’s firing, Nick Saban’s hiring, the BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Virginia Tech, the Saints’ firing of Mike Ditka and eventual hiring of Jim Haslett. And truth be told, it hasn’t slowed down much since.

Timing is everything, and I came to the Times-Pic at a glorious time to cover sports.

History will document the two decades from 2000-2019 as the Golden Age of New Orleans sports. During that span, the Saints rose to prominence under the direction of Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and Drew Brees and became one of the most successful and high-profile teams in the NFL. The NBA’s Hornets-Pelicans relocated from North Carolina and suited up two of the best players of their era: Chris Paul and Anthony Davis. And LSU won multiple national championships in football (2003 and 2007) and baseball (2000 and 2009).



My gig afforded me a front row seat for all of it. I had the good fortune of covering some of the most important and memorable sports events in New Orleans history.

I was there the nights Steve Gleason blocked the punt and Brees broke the record. I saw the Saints win it all and the refs botch the call. When the River City Relay commenced, I was standing on the Saints sideline.

I met and profiled extraordinary athletes and coaches like Eddie Robinson, Skip Bertman, Willie Roaf, Chris Paul, Lolo Jones, Daniel Cormier, Steve Gleason, Anthony Davis, Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the Mannings.

Assignments took me to Beijing, China, London (twice) and Kapalua, Maui, still the greatest boondoggle of my career. (I’m still amazed that my bosses approved the $8 can of Diet Coke on my expense report.)

During my tenure, New Orleans blossomed into one of the best sports towns in America. And I had the best job in it. I was the luckiest man on Earth. After job-hopping across the South, I knew I had found a home.

I had worked at some of the top newspapers in the nation – The Courier-Journal, St. Petersburg Times and USA Today – but none of them compared to the T-P. The newsroom was filled with smart, talented people from all walks of life.

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