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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

Weeknights 8pm-Midnight

Twitter: @scootwwl
Email: scoot@wwl.com
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Posts from December 2013


Scoot's Blog: 2014 - Offers a New Beginning!
It is my hope that 2013 proves to be a turning point for America.  The collective human nature of a society will instinctively push back from the edges of extremism – it is society’s survival instinct.  The extremes of 2013 provide the perfect opportunity a much-needed change of attitudes in America.

In 2013, the racial divide in America reached new heights.  The debate over who can use the N-word exploded.  The trial and not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman became a barometer of racial tension in this country.  When a case involving a young black male and a man of Hispanic descent exploded into a “black/white” issue, it was obvious many Americans were looking for a reason to make race part of a national debate; and the news media was all too willing to fuel the flames of hate.

The Zimmerman trial also ignited the debate over gun control, and the support of and criticism of Zimmerman’s actions as a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch cop touched the issue of individuals circumventing law enforcement to enforce civility.

In 2013, rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court did not strike a blow against the legalization of same-sex marriage - much to the disappointment of many Americans, who were hoping and praying that the High Court would support their specific moral perspective.  The rulings further inspired a debate about morality in America as the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage grew significantly.

A new pope took the helm of the Catholic Church and he immediately sent shock waves through not only the Catholics community, but throughout the Christian world by touching issues that his predecessors dare not address – from acceptance of homosexual priests to the possibility that atheists could have a path to Heaven.  But many around the world applauded the inclusive tone of Pope Francis.

This was the year that the recreational use and possession of marijuana became legal in two states and the Obama Administration announced a change of policy concerning federal laws prohibiting pot.  Previously stating that marijuana would remain illegal on the federal level regardless of what decisions were made on a state level, the Administration changed its position and announced that the federal government would respect the state laws that legalized pot for medical and recreational use and the debate over legalizing marijuana reached new heights, in 2013.

Though bullying has always been a reality in the equation of human relations, this year bullying rose to a level that made it seem as if it was suddenly a new problem for teenagers.  The news media responded to the new-founded fears about bullying by linking it to teen suicides. 

While it seemed there was an obvious connection between many teen suicides and bullying, the media largely failed to consider other factors that might have led to the decision to end a young life.  This was one of many opportunities I had to point out the motives of the news media.  The news media is driven by the desire to attract the largest possible audience and creating and feeding hysteria and panic are guaranteed to attract the attention of a mass audience and lead to a continuing debate, which benefits the news media.

The year of 2013 will be remembered as the year that ideological differences between conservatives and liberals spun out of control.  In an effort to stop implementation of the Affordable Care Act – derogatorily named Obamacare – a Republican-led crusade resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government. During the shutdown, the intensity of political hate among politicians and the American people reached a peak.  The deepening divide between the right and the left may have been best exemplified by conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter, who said that any Republicans who attacked fellow members of the Republican Party over the government shutdown should “just become Democrats” – a suggestion that one must believe everything their party stands for in order to claim to be a member of that party.

Locally, the story about the Causeway Commission’s consideration of a $28 million project to raise the guard rail on the southbound bridge following a third accident that resulted in a vehicle going over the railing into the lake fit perfectly into the trend of diminished respect for personal accountability. Representatives of the Causeway Commission raised the issue that there are many more high-profile vehicles on the roads today that were not on the road when the original southbound bridge was built.  But it was also mentioned that the most recent accident involved a young driver who “was in the right lane – drifted slowly to the left lane, impacted the left guard rail, then veered to the right to hit the right guard rail and almost immediately took a hard left, almost a 90-degree left, departed, went over the rail.”  That description of the actions of the driver prior to the accident would suggest that personal responsibility may have been a bigger consideration than the height of the guard rail.
The prominent themes that stand out from the controversies of 2013 include - the escalating level of hate-inspired debate, a news media that promotes hysteria and the continuing loss of personal accountability.

If it is important to the survival of humanity to sense when to retreat from the edge of extremes, 2013 could prove to be that moment when we ease the hate and learn to accept the speech and actions of others that we disapprove of - as long as their beliefs pose no direct threat to innocent bystanders in life.  The beginning of the New Year should also be the moment when we admit that we have not yet had a truly honest conversation about race relations and this will take harsh honesty on both sides of the debate. 

The single factor that has had the greatest impact on the faltering of American society in recent decades has been the continuing demise of personal accountability and many of the controversies of 2013 have shown us that American society has actually celebrated the loss of accepting accountability for personal actions.  Blaming someone or something else for individual mistakes is a sure way to improve self-esteem.

If we are to make the New Year of 2014 better, then we must learn from the faults of the year that’s ending.
The 1998 hit by the group Subsonic contains lyrics that we should all embrace as we welcome the New Year of 2014 – “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

As individuals, as communities and as a nation – let us acknowledge the past as we embark on this new beginning – 2014!

Happy New Year!
 
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Scoot's Blog: Duck Dynasty Controversy...Who Won?
Duck Dynasty dad Phil Robertson expressed his honest opinion that homosexuality is a sin and that he doesn’t understand how any man would prefer the anatomy of a man to the anatomy of a woman.  A&E, the network that carries one of the most popular cable TV shows, indefinitely suspended Robertson as a way of denouncing his opinions.  That caused an immediate controversy to erupt from both sides of the debate.  Many condemned Robertson for comments they believed were archaic and derogatory, but many praised his courage to speak his mind in an age controlled by political correctness.

After days of the heated debate over Robertson’s comments about homosexuality, it was obvious that the controversy would not go away and A&E announced it was reinstating Phil Robertson and the popular A&E show, Duck Dynasty, would go on!

So, who won?  Everyone!  Phil Robertson won because he is seen as a hero to those who reject the growing acceptance of homosexual lifestyles and the increasing support in same-sex marriage in America.  Duck Dynasty won because the controversy created the type of nationwide buzz that usually leads to an increase in viewership.  The number of people who will rally to support Duck Dynasty will greatly exceed those who will boycott the show.  Those who condemn Robertson’s opinions are not the people who were watching Duck Dynasty in the first place - so their boycott is essentially meaningless.

And A&E won, too!  The fans of Duck Dynasty and those who view Phil Robertson as a champion of free speech may bring additional support to the show.  The fans of Duck Dynasty who considered A&E’s suspension of Robertson an act of violating his precious First Amendment rights will continue to support the show, thus vicariously supporting A&E – so A&E wins with those who actually condemned the decision to suspend Robertson.
The lesson we learn from this is simple and obvious!  Controversy sells!  Controversy promotes the media and promotes the target of the controversy and it is the audience that makes everyone a winner.  

While there are a few controversies that do not always yield winners on both sides, more often controversy mobilizes both sides of a debate and that inspires loyalty and generates new interest.  So, why not be controversial?  Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Madonna, FOX News, MSNBC and countless other performers and media outlets have and will continue to reap the benefits of controversy.  And who gets the sole credit for supporting controversy – the audience.

Interestingly, in the controversy surrounding Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty, it is the audience that will blame either A&E, GQ magazine, Phil Robertson or the media for blowing things out of proportion, but it is the audience that fueled the controversy to the point where everyone is a winner!

As consumers of all aspect of the media, understand that you – the audience – play a major role in inspiring the creation of and the perpetuation of controversies.
And since controversies sell – why not introduce as many as possible?
 
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Scoot's Blog: Saints Prayer

In anticipation of the Saints regular season finale against the Bucs, I thought I'd say a little prayer for the Black and Gold:

Our Saints who art in Heaven
Hallowed it by thy game
Thy kickoff come – thy win be done
On Sunday as it was in September
Give us this win – our weekly win
And forgive us our incomplete passes
As we forgive those who complete passes against us
And lead us not into the offseason
But deliver us to the NFC playoffs!
Amen!

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Scoot Blog: Duck Dynasty Controversy - A Lesson in 1st Amendment Rights
The controversy over comments made by Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson about gays and blacks is continuing to attract national media attention.  Sarah Palin, Jesse Jackson and Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne are among the recent people to speak out about the controversy.

This controversy is proving to be a classic lesson in First Amendment rights and also clearly exposes hypocrisy in America.  In an interview with GQ magazine, Robertson, who is a born-again Christian, condemned homosexuality as a sin and compared homosexual behavior to bestiality. In medical terms that were considered by many to be graphic, Robertson said he didn't understand why anyone would prefer the anatomy of a man to the anatomy of a woman.  Admittedly, as a heterosexual, that is something I don't understand, but that's not for me to judge.

Robertson also said that blacks were happy before the civil rights movement.  The comments on both of these sensitive issues are still being discussed in the media and in everyday conversations.  The media's interest in keeping the controversy alive reveals a lot about the motivation and mentality of the media.

The media thrives on controversies, which create stories with a long life adding to the media's insatiable appetite for compelling content.  The ongoing debates about same-sex marriage and racism in America are hot-button issues drawing instinctive opinions from most Americans.  These are issues that divide Americans and through division controversies are born.

There seems to be some confusion about First Amendment rights in America.  We are free to say anything we want to say, but with that freedom, as with every freedom, there comes responsibility.  I haven't heard anyone argue that Phil Robertson did not have the right to say what he said – the debate centers around the repercussions of his comments.

After Robertson's comments about gays and blacks were released, A&E, the network that carries the highly popular show, Duck Dynasty, suspended Robertson indefinitely.  I agree with Phil Robertson's right to say what he said, but I also agree with A&E's right to suspend, or fire, someone whose words or actions reflect poorly on the network.  A&E may have a right to take action against Robertson, but I don't think that action was warranted.

Phil Robertson's opinions should come as no surprise to anyone and while I disagree with his attitude toward gays and blacks, I completely support his right to make those feelings known.  I cannot speak for Robertson, but there are many people who have clauses in their contracts that hold them accountable for their words and actions that are deemed inappropriate and may damage the image of the company's brand.  As a radio talk show host, I have the right to say whatever I want to say, but I also know that there may be consequences for certain things I have the right to say.

It's fair to point out that many of those who are vehemently supporting the opinions of Phil Robertson are conservatives and it is fair to make the general observation that conservatives have the image of being more pro-business than liberals.  To be pro-business would be to support a company's discretion when it comes to hiring and firing.  If you do not think A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robertson for the comments he made, then I assume you would oppose any business' right to deny employment to anyone who is simply expressing their true opinions.

Should a business not be allowed to fire an employee who shows up at work covered with tattoos?  Aren't tattoos a form of expression?  Would you oppose a business' right to fire an employee for using their freedom of speech to express thoughts that you consider offensive to your customers?

Hypocrisy runs rampart in American society, yet those who are the biggest hypocrites fail to recognize their own hypocrisy.  You can't condemn A&E for suspending Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty for comments the network considered damaging to its image, and then support another business for not hiring or firing an employee for their freedom of expression it considered detrimental to the image of the company.  Acknowledging our own hypocritical tendencies may be a challenge and something we would like to ignore, but it's a challenge we should constantly present to ourselves.

Ultra conservative Sarah Palin tweeted this comment following the initial criticism of Robertson's comments about gays: "Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants' hatin' and talking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch are talking on all of us."  I agree with Palin – free speech is an endangered species – but conservatives have done as much as liberals to kill free speech in America.

Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has entered the controversy by saying that he will use his influence to make sure that Duck Dynasty remains in production in the state – whether on A&E or another network – claiming that the show is important to the state's tourism industry.

Other networks have expressed an interest in Duck Dynasty.  Merrill Sport, owner of the Christian-affiliated Hunt Channel said that "A&E is too scripted" and his network allows personalities to "flow."  But would that network support on-air talent who publically spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage?

The Pursuit Channel told TMZ that it does not "censor our personalities."  Again, would they allow an on-air personality to express opinions that are opposite of Phil Robertson's opinions?  You can't have it both ways and proclaim to support free speech.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has jumped into the controversy by making, what I think, is a ridiculous statement. Jackson told ABC News,

"These statements uttered by Robertson are more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago,"

"At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law. Robertson's statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.'"

Comparing Phil Robertson's comment about blacks to the bus driver who ordered Rosa Parks to the back of the bus is designed to fuel racial tension, which is the lifeblood of Jackson's effort to maintain prominence in America.

Free speech does not mean the freedom to say only things you agree with – free speech also protects the words and comments you strongly disagree with.  It's never a challenge to support agreeable free speech – we are all challenged to support the free speech we strongly disagree with.













 
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Scoot Blog: Have You Lost the True Meaning of Christmas?
Every year the pace of the world seems to get more hectic and every year we are reminded to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.  The massive crowds, traffic congestion, the planning, expectations and the tension all challenge our ability to experience what this time of year is supposed to mean to us all.

The first real step to appreciating the true meaning of Christmas is to admit that it can be a challenge.  We know in our hearts and in our minds what this time of year should mean to us, but the chaos of the season can prevent us from practicing the actions that draw us to its true meaning.

Obviously, for many Americans, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, but a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, along with Religion News Service, shows that a growing number of Americans consider Christmas more of a commercial holiday than a religious holiday.   According to the poll, 1 out of 4 Americans (26%) describe Christmas as a "cultural holiday" rather than a "religious holiday."

Any trend that Christmas is becoming more secular parallels a trend that America is becoming more secular with fewer people going to church and aligning themselves with organized religion.  Before you blame the government, liberals or the media for these trends, consider how much individual Americans have contributed to the exodus from religion.  I have written about the perceived war on Christmas and while I recognize that times have changed, any real war on Christmas is taking place without our homes and our hearts.  Rather than accept responsibility for our own failings, it's convenient and comforting to blame someone else – that way we are not at fault and that feels good, doesn't it?

If the true meaning of Christmas and all this season offers to teach us about people and ourselves, lives in our hearts and minds, then there is nothing the government, liberals or the media have done, or can do, to take Christmas away from us.  (See Scoot Blog: "Is there really a war on Christmas?")

For millions of American children, Christmas is a time to put in an order for the things they want and expect and those orders are usually filled.  But for millions of other American children, Christmas is a day of hoping for only the necessities of life.  If the millions of children who will not experience the joy of receiving gifts from Santa were not aware that millions who will wake up to find their presents under a tree, life wouldn't be as difficult for the children and the parents who do not have the means to make Christmas dreams come true.

There will always be inequities in the world and if you can bless your family with wonderful presents you should not feel guilty.  But if you are in that position, it should be important to you to make certain that your children and the adults in your life never take for grant it the gifts they receive at Christmas.

If Christmas has become a day when your kids, or anyone in your family or close to you, think of Christmas as a day when they win the lottery – then it's up to you to teach them the true meaning of Christmas.  Spoiled children and adults who expect a certain level of gifts at Christmastime are being taught that they are entitled to something.  Ironically, a great portion of Americans who criticize families at other levels of society for teaching their children that they are entitled to certain things are actually teaching their children the exact mentality they are condemning.

The sad truth is that maybe some people have gotten so caught up over the years in the competition of giving and receiving that they have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas – and some may never have been taught what this season means.

Everyone defines the true meaning of Christmas on a personal level, but a good place to start for understanding what we all should think about this time of year is what Jesus and Santa both represent – giving, being selfless, extending compassion and good will, inspiring morals (be nice – not naughty) and expecting nothing in return for our good deeds.

I went a few years in my life recently when I was not in a position to give presents of any kind to anyone – even those closest to me - and that was a very difficult time.  But I learned that I could still give myself – my friendship, my love, my support and all the things that money can't buy.  I don't think I ever went through this time of year without appreciating the true meaning of Christmas, but stripped of that ability to submit to the commercial temptations of Christmas, I now have a better understanding of what this time of year should mean beyond the expense and stress of gift-giving.

Even if you haven't been through times when you couldn't be part of the more commercial aspect of Christmas, you can still pause to make sure that your participation in the gift-giving and receiving ritual of Christmas does not replace the important meaning of this reflective time of year.  If the true meaning of Christmas has gotten lost in our society – it is because of the actions of individuals – not the government or outside forces.  And it is individuals who have the power to spread the joy and true meaning of the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas,

Scoot

WWL
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Scoot: Rick Springfield's "An Affair of the Heart" proves music connects
Rick Springfield personifies what it means to journey through life – never losing who you were and only learning more about who you have become.  The music video for his first hit, “Jessie’s Girl” helped define the new medium of MTV when it hit the air in 1981.  The string of hits that followed launched him into super stardom through a decade when visual appearance became as important as the music.  Rick Springfield combined a naughty innocence with a power pop sound that made girls want to be with him - and guys want to be him!

The award-winning documentary, “An Affair of the Heart,” not only reveals who Rick Springfield is today, but it also transports you back to the time you were first introduced to him through his music videos.  The documentary captures perhaps the most endearing quality of Rick Springfield – his ability to touch and connect with his fans.

The movie focuses on a few fans who have all emotionally bonded with Rick for different reasons.  Their stories about his music, his concerts and personal moments with him reveal a rock star, who has taken time to appreciate what he meant to his fans – and in return – what his fans have meant to him.

The stories of the fans that represent the millions who love Rick and relate to him are brilliantly woven through concert and backstage footage of Rick.  JoAnn and Sue are two women, who met through their shared appreciation of Rick Springfield.  Both are married with families and they have all become BFFs!  While their husbands seem to understand their wives’ infatuation with Rick, one of the husbands does admit to a degree of jealousy.  Nonetheless, he is supportive of his wife traveling often with her friend to attend Rick Springfield concerts in various cities.  Though devoted to their families, I clearly got the feeling that JoAnn and Sue have their passionate fantasies about being with Rick!

The endearing story of Jill and Steve is about a couple that met online; the common bond that sparked a relationship was their appreciation of Rick Springfield.  On the Rick Springfield & Friends Cruise to the Caribbean, Rick called Jill to the stage, where Steve got down on one knee and proposed to her in front of the audience.  A relationship sparked by their connection with Rick Springfield led to their marriage.


 

An interfaith minister, who was gang raped, tells how her connection with Rick Springfield really began with the release of the "shock/denial/anger/acceptance" album in 2004.  After her horrific ordeal, she had a hard time getting angry at the men who assaulted her and that prohibited her healing.  She says it was the anger expressed on that album that gave her permission to get angry at the men who raped her…and that was the beginning of her healing process.

Dustin is a teenager, who Rick met when he was a very young boy.  Dustin, raised by a single father, was enamored with Rick and at the age of 2 he was using a toilet plunger as a guitar while dancing around the living room singing along with the video for "Jessie's Girl."  Dustin has become an amazing young guitar player and often joins Rick on stage and performs songs with him at concerts.

It is the touching story of Laurie that best exemplifies the sensitive and caring side of Rick Springfield, which contradicts his status as a rock icon.  Laurie was born with heart defects and endured pain and surgeries throughout her life.  Often with tears in her eyes, she talks about how the music of Rick Springfield fed her young spirit and helped inspire her to live another day.  At a fan "meet & greet," Laurie shared her story with Rick and how his music had meant so much to her during times when life was not a given.  Rick was deeply moved by her story and the two remain friends today.

I have interviewed countless rock stars throughout my career and my time with Rick Springfield was a refreshing surprise from what I have often encountered in those situations.  He was personal and intelligent, but what stood out most to me was his reflective and philosophical nature.  The documentary "An Affair of the Heart" does a superb job of bringing you into a one-on-one relationship with Rick.  By the end of the movie, you feel like you have spent time with Rick Springfield.

Rick's relationship with his father was one that further explains his sensitive and caring side.  Sitting at the piano bar on the cruise singing "My Father's Chair," a song he wrote about his father who is now passed away, Rick shows us his heart and touches the hearts of everyone who loves their father or has wonderful memories of their father.

Rick Springfield didn't want to write an autobiography.  It seems he didn't want to write a book about himself – he wanted to write a book about his life as a way of helping people who may have similar experiences with depression, thoughts of suicide, chronic infidelity and other human flaws.  The book's title, "Late, Late at Night," suggests a time when we are most alone with thoughts and most honest with ourselves.  Rick created a character in the book he named "the darkness," which represents the dark, negative things he has dealt with in his life.  

The journey of Rick Springfield is a journey that everyone can relate too.  It's a story that proves we can mature, but we never have to get old.  The movie and his concerts, take you on a trip to a fun past when music and music videos reflected a happier time in America.  Rick Springfield, today, teaches us to appreciate the past while recognizing who and what we have become.

Here is Rick's perspective on the past and today: "Because the world is getting scarier and scarier and people are feeling more and more unsafe – and then when I go back to a time or at least have that, you know, little box that they can look in – like a picture – it makes you feel good and safe and strong and true again."

"An Affair of the Heart" appropriately concludes with a montage of Rick performing "Jessie's Girl" at various concerts.  The movie ends on an upbeat, frivolous note, which is only part of who Rick Springfield is today.  But as the movie closes, you think back on the depth of his character, which was hidden behind the persona of a rock star.

Rick admits his inspiration for continuing to perform is founded in his desire to connect with people.  It's rare that a rock star reaches the sky and yet remains firmly grounded.  "I'm one of those performers that loves to look people in the eye, when I'm playing - it's about connections – and it used to be about me," said Rick.  And that is the essence of Rick Springfield.  "An Affair of the Heart" is more than a title of a revealing documentary – it defines the relationship Rick Springfield has with his fans – and himself!

Scoot

Host of "The Scoot Show" weeknights 8 to midnight on WWL-AM-FM  New Orleans, LA
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Scoot: Can you be a true Saints fan and be critical of the Saints?
During the Saints humiliating loss to the St. Louis Rams Sunday, I was tweeting and posting comments on my Facebook posts.  A few of the responses questioned the loyalty of any Saints fan who was critical of the Saints, implying that true believers in the Saints would replace their criticism with undying faith that the Saints will get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

This raises the question of whether or not you can call yourself a true Saints fan and be critical of the Saints after an embarrassing performance.  I find the question to be absurd, yet there are countless Saints fans who say anyone who criticizes the Saints – even after a poor performance – is not really a true Saints fan.

The word “fan” is an abbreviation for fanatic, but the behavior that is labeled fanatic does not assume one must be void of intelligent analysis as to why a team wins or loses.  Blind faith and enthusiasm on the part of the fans suggest an unwillingness to accept reality. 

Sunday against the Rams in St. Louis, the Saints’ performance was so pitiful that failure to be critical would essentially amount to acceptance of mediocrity.  The Saints are 10-4 and still in control of their destiny in the NFC South, and that is a great position to be in at this point in the season.  However, Saints fans should be disappointed that the team did not perform up to expectations.  The loss on Monday Night Football to the Seahawks was embarrassing and another example of the Saints failing to take their show on the road, but Seattle is now one of the elite teams in the NFL and playing like a team that can win the Super Bowl.  There is really no excuse for the Saints performing the way they did Sunday against the Rams – a team that is eliminated from the playoffs and playing with a back-up quarterback.  And to further accentuate the Saints’ poor performance was the fact that the Saints were playing – not only a less talented team – but they were playing to clinch a playoff berth.
The fact that the Saints are 10-4 is positive, but what the team and the fans should not settle for is failing to play up to potential.  New Orleans has changed dramatically since Katrina, but as a native I have been aware of a degree of complacency in this city.  Maybe our relaxed and party mentality encourages us to be satisfied with just being good, but this city has been on a mission to be great. Under the leadership of Sean Payton and Drew Brees, the Saints have reflected the desire to be great, which is becoming ingrained in the spirit of this city.  But Sunday, the Saints failed and fans would be doing the team a disservice of they were not openly critical as a way of expecting their best in every game.

So what went wrong?  Why did the Saints play so poorly in a game that had significant playoff implications?  Was it the players?  Was it the coaching? The answer is “yes” – it was both.  Football is not just about match-ups, records and statistics. Football is also about emotion and psychology.  I like to use sports as a metaphor for life and what happened in St. Louis on Sunday is very human, but it is something that peak performers overcome.
The Saints have a recent history of not playing well against the Rams in St. Louis. Two years ago, a winless Rams team embarrassed the Saints with a victory.  If a team, or an individual, enters any game, competition, sales presentation or anything in life with even a subconscious sense of a challenge based on the past, it doesn’t take much for those subconscious thoughts to overtake the conscious part of the brain. 

On the Saints first offensive play, Brees was pressured and made a bad decision to throw the ball, which was intercepted by the Rams.  That moment could have conjured up those subconscious thoughts of how they have had trouble beating the Rams under current leadership.  The Rams took over – threw a pass and the Saints defense put on one of the most pathetic and amateurish displays of trying to tackle a receiver in recent memory. 
Those two plays – one on offense and one on defense - set the tone for the entire game. It was as if they could hear the voices in their heads saying, “You can’t beat the Rams.”  The Saints appeared to psyche themselves out of being competitive. Granted, that happens to humans and the Saints are comprised of humans and to that degree the loss to the Rams is forgivable.  But what the team (and all of us) can learn is to block out those discouraging voices when they pop into our heads. 

The New England Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins Sunday in Miami and find themselves at 10-4, like the Saints.  Comparing the Saints to the other teams that failed Sunday may be comforting, but is that comfort a way of excusing an inadequate performance?

I hope the Saints are critical enough of themselves to learn from the moment.  It’s discouraging to think that we hoped they would have learned that lesson after the loss to Seattle.  But the Saints came back after a short week and dominated a talented Carolina team that was riding an 8-game winning streak.

The Saints are a team that is proving the critics right about their inability to play well on the road and this week they travel to Carolina to play the Panthers, who will be at home with the motivation of seeking revenge for their embarrassing loss to the Saints on Sunday Night Football.

I tweeted out before the game Sunday against the Rams that it was a must-win for the Saints – not in terms of playoff math, but emotionally it was a must-win. Most of us were very disappointed the Saints were unable to refocus after the first half and overcome what seemed to be a psychological juggernaut.  Where was the leadership of Payton and Brees on the field when the Saints were out of sync?

As disappointing as the loss was to the Rams, the Saints still control their destiny. But their destiny will be short-lived if they can’t get the voices out of their heads when things start out badly on the road.  Let’s hope the outcome is different this weekend against Carolina.

Can you be a true Saints fan and be critical of the Saints – yes!  You can love your children, but it’s important to let them know when they fail to do their best.  

I also tweeted this out during the game – “If I have a really good show on WWL – I don’t assume that my next show will be good – so I apply myself just as much.”

That’s a lesson we can all remember.

 
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Scoot: The Holiday Season Is Difficult for Some People – It Was For Me!
The Christmas or holiday season – whichever it is to you – is a joyous time of happiness and cheer, but it can also be a very difficult time of year for many people.

Christmas and the holidays rekindle the innocent joy of being a child and many of us have wonderful memories of decorating the Christmas tree with our family and all of the gatherings that accompanied that time of year.  And not much in life compares to the anticipation of Christmas and waking early on Christmas morning to discover the presents that Santa Claus left.  But those warm, sentimental memories can also lead to challenges in navigating through the physical and emotional reminders of what this time of year once meant to us.

Anyone who knows me and has been close to me anticipates my mood this time of year.  I am a very sentimental person and every year I struggle with my own memories of the holiday season.  In many ways, I had a very good childhood, but as a sentimental person, I instinctively block out the past, which is difficult to do with the memories of Christmas so strongly printed on my heart and mind.

There have been years when I was positive and loved the holiday season, but there were also many years when I fought the sad emotion of lamenting about the past and thinking about the things that were missing in my life any particular year.  I remember how hard it was to even go to the grocery store or any retail store and fight my emotional response to hearing the Christmas carols.  Even church presented a challenge for me.
After I moved back to New Orleans following the break-up of a 16-year relationship, I have vivid memories of wanting to avoid anything and everything that was related to Christmas!  That year, I had nothing to give anyone and was not with so many people I loved…so I just wanted to be away from it all.  I had a free airline ticket and a voucher for a hotel room.  What I thought was going to be a terribly sad Christmas turned out to be a very happy and memorable Christmas.

At 6:30pm on that Christmas Eve a few years ago, I was on a flight to Las Vegas!  I’m not a gambler, but I love the escape of being in Vegas.  I looked around me on the flight and thought about who I was sharing this Christmas Eve moment with – who else would be on this flight to Vegas?  There were a few passengers, who appeared to have started the Christmas party prior to boarding the plane and appeared to be looking for their escape from Christmas – not because they were sad but because they had time off and this was a good time to party!   I also noticed an unusual number of Asians and continued to see a disproportionate number of Asians while in Vegas.  It occurred to me that many Asians would not celebrate Christmas; therefore this was a perfect time to go to a place like Las Vegas.

That Christmas Eve, I felt totally alone and that was where I wanted to be at that point in my life.  I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me, but I did sense that I was still sharing a moment with others who either didn’t want to recognize Christmas or were trying to escape all the emotions of the season.  After walking around a few casinos, I decided to do what I always did on Christmas Eve – I walked to a nearby church and went to midnight mass.  The church was packed!  And I actually felt like I was at a midnight mass in Las Vegas.  
In just 23 hours, I had flown to Vegas, gone to midnight mass, flew back to New Orleans and accomplished my goal of hiding from the sentimental aspect of Christmas.

If you are having a difficult time this Christmas season and if some of those traditional Christmas carols and the visuals of the season are causing you to fight those emotional feelings, trust that it will not always be this way.  You, too, can find a way to escape the deep emotion of this time of year with the knowledge that your perspective on life will change and you will once again look forward to the holidays.
My life has changed and for the past two years I have embraced the Christmas season with a youthful enthusiasm.  I still fight some of those sentimental feelings, and I will not be with everyone I would like to be with this Christmas, but I am blessed that I got through those tough holiday seasons and find myself again enjoying the unbridled joy of this wonderful time of year.  

In fact, because of the recent course of my life, I am better now than I ever have been when it comes to dealing with the sentimental emotions of Christmas.  I can even hear the most traditional Christmas carols, like The First Noel, without reaching for a tissue!

Whatever you are dealing with this Christmas – I’m here to let you know that you will get through it.  So just accept this holiday season for what it is - knowing it will not always be this way for you!
Merry Christmas!
 
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Locations: Las VegasNew Orleans




 
Scoot: The Slow Death of Common Sense
A new study shows about 9,400 children suffer high chair-related injuries every year.  The study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH indicates a 22% increase in injuries resulting from high chair-related accidents from 2003 to 2010.

The instinctive reaction many Americans will have is “OMG!  We have to make high chairs safer!”  But, is that really the problem?

The most common injury from high chair accidents is a head injury from children falling.  Most of the children, who were injured, fell while climbing or standing on the high chair.  In case you haven’t noticed, high chairs--along with car seats and strollers--now have child restraint features that were not part of the world many of us grew up in.  Have you seen child car seats and strollers today?  It looks like these devices were designed to withstand a child re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere!

In the interest of making the world safer for children - we may be endangering children.  From safety regulations for toys, car seats, strollers, high chairs and everything and anything a child might play with or be placed in, the government and the groups that push for countless safety regulations are giving parents a false sense of security about the safety of their kids.  If something is on sale and available for consumers to buy for their children, there seems to be this idea that the products have been so scrutinized that they are 100% safe.

I am all for making the world as safe as we can for children and for doing all we can to protect children, but this lofty goal may be leading to…parents paying less attention to their children.

The newly released study on child injuries from high chair-related accidents suggests it is not the high chair that is causing injuries – it’s the parents, who are obviously not paying close attention to their children.  In the media, the tendency is to blame the animate object or product and not the parents or adults, who failed to closely monitor their children.  And, in the litigious world in which we now live, lawyers are more successful at suing a company that manufactures a product than suing parents who are void of common sense.

It’s called a high chair because it is a chair that’s higher off the ground than a regular chair – thus boosting the child to an adult level at the table.  Obviously, some parents are putting their children in high chairs and assuming that with the child restraint features their children are safe while they pay attention to other things – like cooking or texting.  If most of the injuries suffered by children from high chairs are the result of children climbing or standing on the chairs, then the parent-on-duty must have been ignoring the activities of the child.  Can’t blame the high chair for that!
Another possible reason for the increase in injuries from high chairs is the wealth of publicity out today on concussions.  The increase may also come from more parents bringing their children to the emergency room when they fall, which is a positive action.
Recently, I did a show on the annual report released from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group titled “Trouble in Toyland.”  The report lists the toys that may pose a threat to children.  One of the toys that made the list this holiday season is the Fisher-Price Loving Family Outdoor Barbeque, which comes with plastic food items that are small and realistic so children may be tempted to put them in their mouths and choke.  Think of all the things we played with as kids that included items we could have choked on?  The difference is our parents seemed to be more vigilant at watching us and didn’t assume everything had been scrutinized by the safety police.

The constant effort to make the world a safer place for children is noble and right, but not at the expense of taking away the need for parents to use common sense.  I hope you didn’t need a new study to tell you that your children should not be climbing or standing on their high chairs?  I hope you don’t need the government to tell you that child restraint features don’t replace the attentive eye of parents.

Collins English Dictionary defines common sense as “plain ordinary good judgment.”  Imagine how safe the world would be for children – and adults – if we all used common sense?
 
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Locations: Columbus




 
Scoot: Are You Shocked by New Teen Pregnancy Rate?
If a new study showed that teen pregnancies had increased and hit an all-time high, I guarantee you there would be talk show hosts, politicians and religious groups that would use the new information to condemn sexual content in music videos, song lyrics, on TV and in movies for the unacceptable increase in teen pregnancies.  There would also be the regular chorus of voices proclaiming that teenagers today are reckless with their sexual activities and do not think about the consequences of their behavior.

Well, here is the shocking headline: "U.S. teen pregnancy rates hit an all-time lowwith all ethnicities!"

Media reaction to these new statistical facts will not equal the reaction if the facts had shown an increase in teen pregnancies.  This again reminds us that the media and talk show hosts are driven by controversies that fit preconceived opinions rather than the truth. In fact, the new report indicates the percentage of pregnant teenagers was higher in 1946 than it is today!

There have been numerous campaigns promoting the need for the distribution of free condoms to teenagers.  Recently, Dr. Rebecca O'Brien, the lead author of a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence said free condoms should be available everywhere and not just in healthcare settings – including shopping malls – all in an effort to combat teen pregnancies.

Apparently, condom availability is not an issue.  It should also be pointed out that if teen pregnancies have hit an all-time low at a time when the popular rhetoric focuses on blaming entertainment for the alleged increases in teen pregnancies, then we can logically conclude that it's just that – rhetoric rather than reality.

Negative news always attracts more attention than positive news and the new report showing teen pregnancies hitting a new low will further demonstrate this media tendency.  The media is a function of society, which is made up of humans, so it is not entirely the media's fault.  Human nature is more to blame.  We are more fascinated with negative news than positive news.  If your neighbor is caught having an affair, that will probably generate more buzz than if a neighbor's teen makes the honor roll at school.

I may be the only one in the media who will recognize that today's teenagers should be praised for the teen pregnancy rate reaching an all-time low, but my fear is that only if the opposite were true would there be a loud response to the report.

The new report showing the decrease in teen pregnancies does not mean too many teens are not still being reckless with their sexual behavior, but the facts should denounce the propensity to quickly blame entertainment and outside influences for teen pregnancies.

Teen pregnancies and even unexpected adult pregnancies have so much more to do with personal accountability than sex in entertainment or the lack of free condoms for teens.  The downfall of American society is led by the deteriorating respect for personal accountability.  If something, or someone else is always to blame for bad decisions, then everyone feels better about themselves.  But the failure to acknowledge personal accountability has continued to contribute to a feel-good society that is blameless.  When blame is not accurately placed – the problem can never be fixed.

However, if there would be criticism of teens if the teen pregnancy rate had hit a new high, then isn't it only fair to give positive reinforcement to teenagers who have pushed the rate of pregnancies among their peers to a new low?
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Scoot: Is There Really a War on Christmas?
Every year we hear about the war on Christmas – is it real or is it media hype?

One could easily get the impression that the war on Christmas is escalating and is but one battle in a bigger government war on Christianity.  I often write about the media and its relationship with society – something I have talked about throughout my career.  The news media benefits from controversy, therefore creates controversy.  Over the years, there has been a growing fear that the government is attempting to remove Christianity and God from American society and the perceived war on Christmas fits that trend perfectly.

Blaming the ills of America on the removal of school-led prayers from public schools in the early 1960s has only become more popular with many Americans.  Political correctness has often been misinterpreted as a liberal attempt to sanitize America of God and individual freedoms, when it originally was nothing more than an attempt to establish criteria for a more inclusive America.  Political correctness has gotten out of control, but it should not be seen as a force that has the power to rob this country of all that makes it unique.

As polarizing talk radio and cable TV network news channels have redefined the modern news media, controversy has become the industry’s most valuable inventory.  The head cheerleader for the war on Christmas has been FOX News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, who every year fans the flames of fear that Christmas is being taken from us.  This is not an attack on Bill O’Reilly or the FOX News Channel, but they have been one of the prominent sources promoting the idea that there is a war on Christmas, which placates a specific audience that is prone to accept what they want to be real.  And both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of believing what they want to believe, rather than seek the truth.
For the record, the current war on Christmas can be traced back to 1959, when the right-wing organization, the John Birch Society, issued a pamphlet titled, “There Goes Christmas.”  It warned of a communist plot to remove all Christmas decorations from American society and replace them with United Nations symbols.  The concern was that the United States would be taken over by the United Nations.  Interestingly, aided by today’s social media, the fear that the United States is positioning itself for a United Nations take-over has become part of current controversies, for example, the gun control debate.

The American Family Association, along with other groups and individuals, condemned the use of “Xmas” in place of Christmas arguing that it is another attempt to remove “Christ” from Christmas.  The current-day interpretation of “Xmas” ignores the real meaning behind it.  “Xmas” was originally a simple abbreviation.  The “X” does not cross out or replace Christ, the “X” is the Greek letter for chi, which is the first letter in the word “Christ.”  Yet, those who are prone to paranoia and hysteria have accepted the modern – but inaccurate –interpretation of “Xmas.”

Every year during this season, there is general criticism of the use of “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”  The American Family Association used this to further spread the war on Christmas hysteria.  This year, the AFA is calling for a boycott of all Radioshack stores because their website uses “Holiday” rather than “Christmas” in promoting “Holiday Deals,” “Holiday Gift Guides” and “Holiday Cash.”

There was criticism of Wal-Mart when the company first directed all of the store greeters to say “Happy Holidays” to customers as they entered the stores.  While I agree “Merry Christmas” should not be offensive to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I can also understand that the more inclusive “Happy Holidays” relates to more consumers this time of year.  The motivation behind “Happy Holidays” may be rooted more in consumerism than in secularism.
The phrase war on Christmas is promoted when there is a news story about a public school banning religious-oriented Christmas songs, or when there is public objection to a Christmas tree or a nativity scene on public property.  An atheist organization put up a giant “A” and posted an anti-Christmas banner in Chicago to protest a nativity scene on city property.

I can argue that atheists and non-Christians should not be offended by any public acknowledgment of Christmas.  Both sides of the Christmas controversy should learn to be more accepting of opposing views on the holiday, since the celebration and recognition of Christmas is usually void of attempts to convert non-believers.  It’s just a celebration and not a recruiting opportunity.

As you hear the stories that are linked to the alleged war on Christmas this holiday season, ask yourself if and how the government or retail outlets have actually taken Christmas away from you and your family.  Have you lost your ability to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way that reflects your faith?

Before you join the crusade to fight a war that really may not be a war at all, think about your personal appreciation of this sacred holiday.  Even in the few cases where neighborhoods have asked homeowners to remove Christmas decorations because they violate community rules, has that robbed anyone of celebrating Christmas?

All of the examples used to justify the alleged war on Christmas involve items and activities that are tangible, commercial and arguably for show.  The real meaning of Christmas lives in our hearts and our minds and I do not believe the government or anyone can take that away from you and your family.  The real war on Christmas is being waged by those who have become paranoid and hysterical that the celebration of Christmas is in jeopardy.

If the removal of Christmas decorations from anywhere in society or the singing of religious-oriented Christmas songs in schools takes away your Christmas spirit – I suggest that maybe your Christmas spirit was not very strong to begin with!
 
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Locations: Chicago




 
Scoot: Billboard with American Soldier Embracing a Young Muslim Woman
A billboard featuring a young American soldier in a loving embrace with a young Muslim female has caused controversy on Hollywood's Sunset Blvd.  The words that accompany the picture on the billboard are "Snore Stop: keeping peopletogether"#betogether.

Click here to see the billboard...

The billboard is for a company called Snore Stop, which sells nasal sprays, oral sprays and pills that prevent people from snoring.  The company promotes that their products help keep marriages together by preventing snoring.

By using a picture of an American soldier holding a young Muslim female with the words "#betogether," the company is encouraging controversy because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Much of the tension felt by the U.S. in recent years has originated in the Middle East and the vision of an American soldier romantically involved with a Muslim woman is appalling to some Americans.

The company Snore Stop should be commended on a creative marketing campaign that was certain to attract attention, and sometimes the best attention comes in the form of controversy. But the reason this billboard is controversial uncovers an unfortunate tendency to judge.

First of all, we should be able to look back on our nation's past and realize that the judgment of people based on race, nationality, religion, etc. is wrong. Times have changed, but sadly, there are still Americans who are offended by the sight of biracial couples. Consider how the Japanese were perceived before and during World War II compared to the respect Americans now have for the Japanese and the overwhelming acceptance of American/Japanese couples.  The hate for the Japanese, at one time, was equal to the hate many have for Muslims in the Middle East today.

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers met Vietnamese women and many fell in love and married. Would it be any more unusual for an American soldier to meet and fall in love with a Muslim woman - or a female soldier meeting and falling in love with a Muslim man?

Why are so many people instinctively threatened by the blending of cultures? America is changing as the world is changing, but change should not always manifest fear in the general population.  The fear of losing the purity of a race, nationality or religion can be more subconscious and less admitted, but the mobility of the world's population and instant communications have ushered global changes as more and more individuals with different backgrounds cross paths.

In his book, "Megatrends 2000," author John Naisbitt suggested that the more homogenized the world becomes – the greater the fear of losing our individual identity, thus the stronger the instinct to protect the purity of that identity. Sometimes our instincts may appear evil, but actually result fromnon-malicious intent.  The idea of protecting the purity of a race, nationality or religion, for example, has become archaic in the context of the world in which we now live. Not only is protecting the purity of groups archaic, but it closely resembles Hitler's evil motive to create and maintain a superior race.

Since we cannot predict who we will fall in love with, or when, we should all be more accepting of any two people who find that still unexplained emotion of love. Love is not always easy to find and we should celebrate those who find it, rather than condemn the vast differences between the two individuals who fall in love.
I applaud Snore Stop for having the courage to put up a billboard with a young American soldier romantically embracing a young Muslim – not only because of its ability to attract attention for the company – but mostly because it challenges stereotypes.

I have witnessed America celebrate stereotyping as a recreational sport. Rather than accept the diversity of individuals and couples, we are quick to stereotype for the sole purpose of expressing hate in our hearts.

It is not for everyone to understand why others fall in love – whether American and Muslim couples, black and white couples, same-sex couples, etc… Before you allow the visual on a billboard of a young American soldier and a young Muslim female to inspire judgment in you, stop and realizewho someone falls in love with really is not your concern.

Early settlers fell in love with Native Americans, Christians fall in love with Jews, Muslims and atheists and conservatives even fall in love with liberals!Controversies, like the billboard in Hollywood, force us to address our instinctive judgment of others, which distracts from the respect we should have for the emotion of love.

 
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Locations: Middle East
People: HitlerJohn Naisbitt




 
Scoot: Tough Loss – But Get Over It!
The Saints are 9-3 and they are still in a prime position to win the division and move into the playoffs, however, last night’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks was a reality check!

The Saints did nothing to silence the critics who say they are not a good team on the road in cold weather.  The Saints were soundly out-coached and out-played at every level of offense and defense.  The coaches and players seemed confused and out-of-sync from the first play.  I think I heard one of the announcers say, “And at the end of the Star Spangled Banner – it’s Seahawks 17 - Saints nothing!”

The Saints full blitzes reminded me of the defense last year.  They rushed Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson, but did not sack him or pressure him enough to throw him off his game and there were not enough players to cover the receivers.  The defense was torched.  Russell Wilson is an amazing talent with confidence and a sense for the game beyond his years.  We can only hope Rob Ryan has a better plan to contain Cam Newton when the Saints play the Panthers Sunday.

Last night, Seahawks fans set a new world record for being the loudest crowd in a stadium when the meter hit 137.6 decibels!  Noise was certainly a factor, but not an excuse for the loss.  The Saints wore specially-molded noise reduction earplugs.  It might seem insignificant, but wouldn’t a foreign object in your ear affect your performance?  When anything distracts us from our comfort zones in life, we struggle to perform at the highest level.  I can’t help but wonder if the special earpieces added to all of the other factors that led to the Saints never getting into a winning rhythm.
If the Saints couldn’t do anything right – the Seahawks couldn’t do anything wrong.  There were numerous examples of how the Seahawks could enforce their will against the Saints, but one example that comes to mind was late in the 4th quarter – the Seahawks were leading 34 -17 and it was 4th and one.  The Seahawks  went for it and passed for a first down completion.  Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll has a young, brazen team - and an attitude to match.
To add to the frustration of the loss, the Saints were stuck in Seattle overnight due to mechanical problems with the team’s charter plane.  So, now a short week gets even shorter and the last minute challenge of finding a hotel for the team had to be a nightmare for team officials.  If you have ever been stuck in a city for an unexpected overnight stay, you can relate to how difficult it was for the Saints to lose to the Seahawks the way they did and then be stuck in Seattle.
If the Saints recover from this loss and beat the Panthers Sunday night at home in the dome, the criticism that the

Saints are an indoor team will continue, but let’s remember the Saints are still in a position to prove those critics wrong.  It’s possible that the Saints will meet the Seahawks again in the playoffs in Seattle, which would present another opportunity to prove the critics wrong.

There is no reason to overreact or panic over the tough loss to the Seahawks and every reason to believe the Saints will bounce back and redeem themselves against the Panthers Sunday night.  Yes, this is a short week that is now shorter because of mechanical problems with the team plane, but let’s not start making excuses.  If today would have been a day for team meetings to start planning for the Panthers, then the long flight home could become the meeting room.  The team could divide into offense, defense and special teams on the plane and coaches could hold meetings with the players.  I realize that is not an ideal situation, but sometimes life throws us curves and our only option is to adjust and not look for excuses for failure.

You know I like to use football as a metaphor for life.  I can think of countless times in my career when unexpected things forced me to overcome obstacles that might cause some to lose their resolve to “get the job done” no matter what the circumstances, and I’m sure you can think of times when you faced challenges that gave you a chance to prove who you are.

It is easier to excel when everything is going right.  Real champions rise out of the challenges and obstacles that define character.  The Saints have a chance to show their character by putting the loss behind them and dealing with the logistical nightmare of being stuck in Seattle overnight.  And Saints fans should put this loss behind them and focus on Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the Panthers.  If the Saints had beaten the Seahawks last night, fans might be more encouraged to have the attitude that we will break the crowd noise record set in Seattle last night, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t promote the idea that we can try to break the crowd noise record this Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome!

Last night’s game may have just set the stage of a bigger drama to unfold.  The Saints come home to beat the Carolina Panthers ending their 8-game winning streak.  And the Saints may have the opportunity to play Seattle again when the stakes are even higher.  The loss to the Seahawks was a disappointing chapter in a book that is far from the final chapter being written on the 2013-14 season.

The Saints can still prove they are champions!
 
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Scoot: New Orleans and Seattle: the Cities and the New Rivalry
“It isn’t a playoff game – it just feels like one!”  That’s the way tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the Saints and the Seahawks is being promoted!

The 9-2 Saints are in second place behind the first-place 10-1 Seahawks in the NFC and tonight’s game could determine home-field advantage for the playoffs.

Not only does tonight’s game feel like a playoff game, but it’s interesting that ever since the Seahawks eliminated the Saints from the playoffs a couple of years ago, this match-up has become an unexpected and heated rivalry.
Seattle and New Orleans are as different as the 2,101 miles that separate the two cities – with one exception.  Seattle is nicknamed the Emerald City.  It is pristine and clean and sits on Puget Sound and is bordered by several lakes.  The evergreen trees reach high into the sky and since freezes are rare the landscape is thick with breathtaking flowers and foliage.  The temperatures are cool for 10 months of the year, but it is cloudy and rainy throughout the year.  Seattle is nestled among mountains to the West, East, North and South and on clear days the sight of snow-capped Mt. Rainer provides a majestic backdrop to the South.  Elliot Bay and Puget Sound are a deep emerald green.  Seattle is a beautiful city with a rich history and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to live and work there.

New Orleans, in many ways, is the opposite of Seattle and I don’t mean that in a negative way.  New Orleans is authentic and frivolous and even though there are a few areas of Seattle where there is a party atmosphere, nothing there compares to the unbridled enthusiasm of being in the French Quarter or the unique and amazing history of our city.  But it is the collection of people in New Orleans – our culture – that distinguishes us from Seattle or any other city in America.   And while Seattle has a bounty of fresh seafood due to its proximity to the water, it’s just not the same as the seasoned seafood we all enjoy in New Orleans.  I loved Seattle, but I am happy to be back home and on the air in New Orleans.

But the one thing New Orleans and Seattle share most is their fanatical, rabid football fans!  Every NFL city has crazy, dedicated fans, but having lived in both cities, as well as other NFL cities, I can tell you from first-hand experience that Saints fans and Seahawks fans share a uniquely devout and fanatical dedication to their teams!

Tonight in Seattle, Seahawks fans are going to try to break an NFL record that you would think would be owned by Saints fans.  Tonight, Seahawks fans are going to try to set a crowd noise record by hitting 137 decibels – and that’s in an outdoor stadium!  Recently, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome I watched the decibel meter hit 118 decibels, which is the level of an extremely loud rock concert.  IF Seahawks fans break the NFL record for crowd noise, regardless of the outcome of the game – the WHO DAT Nation must be on a mission to break it and set a new record in the dome!
Every year at the beginning of the season, there are those Saints fans who proclaim, “We’re going to the Super Bowl this year!”  After the Saints beat the Falcons in the season-opener and then went on to beat the Bucs and the Cardinals, some fans and many in the media started comparing this year’s Saints to the 2009 Saints that won the Super Bowl.  I was called an “ass” by one listener and called a “non-believer” by a few, for saying it was too soon talk about the Saints and the Super Bowl.  I was quick to point out that any fan who called me an “ass” or a “non-believer” for making the observation that it was too early to talk about going to the Super Bowl would also have to say the same things to Sean Payton and Drew Brees – who both rejected playoff and Super Bowl talk at that early point in the season.  I was in good company!

However, I think it’s time to talk about the Saints and the playoffs.  Though there are a number of big games left, including the Carolina Panthers next Sunday night in the nationally televised game from the dome, this 2013 Saints team has proven it is worthy of playoff expectations.

I am not a “football expert,” but I do understand the game and the psychology of human motivation.  Statistics are never as important as the intangible factor of human motivation.  Sports history is rich with conquest stories of teams with lesser talent beating teams with superior talent and the only explanation is the factor of human motivation.
The Saints have dealt with their share of serious injuries to key players on offense and defense.  Yet, this team has shown a desire to overcome any and all challenges and rise to the occasion to win.  I have never been a Saints fan who blindly says “The Saints are going to win!”  I always want the Saints to win, but I have always tried to be honest and realistic with about a game. There are so many factors that go into any victory that I have no idea how tonight’s game will end, but over the past few weeks I have seen this game on the horizon and felt like the Saints would beat Seattle in Seattle.  I also think this Saints team will beat Carolina in next Sunday’s nationally televised game from New Orleans.  This year’s Saints are a special team – not only because of talent – but because of the element of human motivation.
When my predictions are accurate I have always placed a great deal of consideration on desire and motivation.  Seattle has desire and motivation and they will have the kind of home field advantage the Saints enjoy in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the talent and the emotion of the Saints right now will be the difference and the Saints will overcome yet another huge challenge on their way to the playoffs by beating the Seahawks in Seattle and by winning on the road in a very hostile environment – which will silence the critics who label the Saints a “dome team.”

I heard a story that during the run to the Super Bowl in 2009, when the Saints played a hot Dolphins team in Miami, Sean Payton used the opportunity to tell the team - something to the effect of - get used to what it feels like to play here, because we will be back when we play here in the Super Bowl.  That was the year the Saints beat the Colts and won the Super Bowl in Miami.  If the weather conditions are not perfect, I wonder if Coach Payton will use the moment to tell the Saints they need to embrace playing in an outdoor stadium where the weather can be a factor, because the Super Bowl will be in an open stadium in New Jersey next year!

Enjoy the game tonight – this is another very special Saints team!
 
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