Lewis: Observations on Louisiana sports world _lowres

Associated Press photo by JIM MONE -- Super Bowl bid co-chair Marilyn Carlson Nelson shows her enthusiasm during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday in St. Paul. Minn., where Gov. Mark Dayton, right, hosted the presentation leaders who helped bring the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis.


New Orleans got frozen out.

The city’s bid to host a record 11th Super Bowl was never a sure thing, but it was still a shock to the system to realize that the NFL owners voting Super Bowl LII to Minneapolis simply came down to cold, hard cash.

Cold, hard cash — as in the roughly $500 million Minnesota taxpayers came up with to help fund the new stadium Roger Goodell told them they needed, lest the Vikings follow the lead of the Lakers decades ago and move to Los Angeles.

“From talking to the owners, the determining factor among (them) was the stadium in Minneapolis and the effort they had in bringing that stadium to completion,” Goodell said at his post-vote news conference.

New Orleans put in its strongest possible bid, but perhaps basing its central message on 2018 being the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding didn’t resonate among the owners as much as the organizing committee hoped.

We don’t know, and neither do we know how close the final vote was, although word around Saints headquarters is it might have been 17-15.


What’s known is that 2019 is probably out as well. Atlanta’s new stadium will be hard to beat that year, and Super Bowl bids are too expensive to make two years in a row if you don’t win.

Goodell added that New Orleans’ turn to host will happen again “before too long.”

But in the current dynamic of contending for Super Bowls, “before too long” sounds very indefinite.


Who in the world thought it would be a good idea for Michael Sam to have a reality show airing on OWN about his efforts to become the first openly gay player in the NFL?

It turns out that Sam’s agents are a pair of fellow rookies, Joe Barkett and Cameron Weiss, who have seemingly concentrated on marketing their client rather than making sure he was physically and mentally prepared for the challenge of making the team.

And that doesn’t take into account the amount of distraction and/or resentment Sam probably has already created for the rest of the St. Louis Rams.

At the Saints rookie minicamp last weekend, several of those players talked about how they desired to be as inconspicuous as possible, with the exception of what they did on the field.

Yes, common sense finally prevailed, as the Sam show has been shelved.

Hopefully Sam will get an even-handed opportunity to make the team. He doesn’t need the distractions, either.

Too bad he didn’t realize that on his own.


If there’s an opposite end of the spectrum — and a low-round draft pick you truly pull for — try the Saints’ Tavon Rooks.

The offensive tackle from Kansas State, who went in the sixth round, was still pinching himself at Thursday’s New Orleans Touchdown Club Super Boil.

“I’m blessed to be here,” Rooks said. “A lot of guys don’t get drafted or never get any opportunity to play in the NFL. I didn’t know when I was growing up that I ever would.”

So sure was Rooks that he would be a free agent that he spent the final day of the draft, which was also his 24th birthday, he was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with his girlfriend, Molly Viger, watching her younger brother in a baseball game rather than having a watch party.

And now Rooks has a $2.3 million contact, including a $97,000 signing bonus.

That will come in handy since Rooks and Molly are expecting a baby girl, already named London, in September.

“We’re still trying to figure things out about her moving down here, but I have to make the team first,” Rooks said. “I’m trying to get used to the speed and learn the playbook.

“And I’m part of a great organization. Ain’t that something?”


There was only a 1-percent chance the Pelicans would draw the lucky pingpong ball that not only would return the protected 2014 first-round draft pick the team traded to Philadelphia in the Jrue Holiday deal, but boost it from the No. 10 pick into the top three.

Alas, the Pels weren’t as lucky as Cleveland, which went from No. 9 to No. 1 with an infinitesimally better chance.

So now the 76ers have Nerlens Noel — the Pelicans’ 2013 first-round pick, who missed the entire season with a knee injury, and whoever they take at No. 10 in a supposedly deep draft.

And the Pelicans have in Holiday, a 2013 All-Star who played well before a injury cost him the majority of the season.

If Holiday can regain that form, then the trade can be considered at worst a wash.

To be sure, the Pelicans don’t have a draft pick, and unless somebody with a pick thinks maybe Eric Gordon or Ryan Anderson is worth a first-rounder, it will stay that way.

But this franchise urgently needs to improve at small forward and center, which means being aggressive with a trade or in free agency.

With Anthony Davis halfway to free agency, the clock is ticking.


The National Basketball Retired Players Association is teaming with the New Orleans branch of Stand for Children Louisiana to take up 200 at-risk youngsters plus their chaperones to Birmingham, Alabama, on June 25 for an Civil Rights Era tour with a sports twist.

In addition to visiting the Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church, the group will attend the Rickwood Classic, in which the Birmingham Barons and Jackson Braves will be sporting Negro League uniforms. It will conclude the day with dinner at the Alabama football complex.

Former Saints vice president and New Orleans city councilman Arnie Fielkow, executive director of the retired players association, will lead the tour.

Participation is limited. Registration can be made at stand.org./Louisiana, Propeller Incubator, 4035 Washington Ave., Suite 123 or Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s office at City Hall.


No matter what it took, Tulane and Rick Jones did the right thing Friday when they agreed his time as the Green Wave baseball coach had come to an end.

Athletic Director Rick Dickson has a history of not making a move when one was needed, most notably keeping Bob Toledo for 2011. Jones, like any coach who has invested so much of himself — in this case, to the detriment of his health — wanted to go out on his own terms, including designating Jake Gautreau as his successor after he spent one more year on the job in a limited basis.

Following that course would have been disastrous for a once-proud program that has seen its levels of success and support wither away.

Hopefully Jones will come to that realization and he will be properly remembered all he’s done for the program.

As Tulane goes into the American Athletic Conference this fall, the biggest test will be raising its level of expectations across the board and holding people accountable for them.

In this case, Dickson has passed the first one.