For the most part, we live in a society of second chances. We don’t tolerate phonies, liars or ignorant behavior but if you are contrite, many will try to forgive. The past month we seemed to have been hit with an unusual amount of all of the above whether its  Anthony Weiner, Alex Rodriguez or most recently Riley Cooper. 

Riley Cooper’s use of the N-word shocked many except those who have been targets of racial slurs. You wonder at the age of 25 if Cooper really understands the history of that word. I will not pretend to know how racism feels, but surely sympathize with those who have. My daughters are approaching their teenage years and aren’t familiar with such ignorance, I can only hope their generation behaves better than mine and those before me.

It was ironic to me that Michael Vick was the first in the Eagles organization to defend Cooper. Vick knows all about getting a second chance, something I think he deserved and has made the most of. Cooper, whom I thought did a good job showing remorse in his press conference, would be smart to follow his quarterback’s lead.  Riley has been punished by the Eagles, but frankly I’m surprised the NFL has refused to do anything—they should impose a suspension of some sort. Their inaction doesn’t send the right message.

Second chances are a leap of faith, let’s hope the former Gator handles his better than the likes of Weiner and A-Rod who for different reasons are both walking time bombs when it comes to repeat offenses. Just one of many topics in this week’s trip around the Naborhood…..

TIPPING: The standard protocol for tipping your waiter or waitress is 20% of the bill but what about takeout orders?? I don’t know about you but I didn’t know tipping was part of that equation. I kind of take takeouts on a case by case basis, depending on the size of the order and the parties involved.

Recently Saints QB Drew Brees was outed by a San Diego restaurant for only tipping 3 dollars on a 74 dollar take out order. Brees when he found out this surprisingly became national news wanted to set the record straight. He was disappointed “that it actually got spun and perceived as—you immediately jump to the conclusion that He stiffed a waiter or waitress. That’s the part that bothers me.”

Brees wasn’t defensive when he talked about it after practice where he indicated that on social media you really can never win—there are always critics out there—even when it comes to tipping on takeout orders. I have no problem with what Brees did, I have a bigger problem with it becoming such a big story.

Here’s a tip—Social Media is running amoc, let’s pick on the right targets—like the losers who take pictures of receipts and put them on the internet.

PAY FOR PLAY: As a parent whose saving money for my girls to go to college one day, I understand the value and the financial burden of a college education but I’ve always thought college football and basketball players should be paid. They are the exception not the norm as the TV deals bring an ungodly amount of money to universities and the success of these players is the reason why.

I actually agree with Steve Spurrier that these athletes could be given a weekly 300 dollar stipend after each game just to take care of some of the essentials like a meal, a ticket to the movies or whatever.  Look, I’m not naive enough to think paying these players 300 dollars a game won’t take away all the NCAA troubles we see on a seemingly weekly basis, but it may curtail some of it. Playing a major sport, you often can’t or aren’t allowed to get a part time job—your job is  playing big time college sports. The money big time college football and hoops generates is a big delectable financial pie—I think its only fair that these athletes get a piece of it, albiet a small slice.

INSTANT REPLAY: A lot of pressure on Major League Baseball to follow the NFL’s lead and implement instant replay—please don’t!! I am a baseball traditionalist for sure. I don’t like the DH, can’t stand interleague play and absolutely hate the fact that the winner of the All Star game decides home field advantage in the World Series? Ridiculous

Football is a different animal they only play 16 regular season games so the margin for error is much smaller and replay is necessary. Baseball plays 162 games, so I can deal with a bad call here or there which is what we get. The Rays benefitted from a bad call at home plate against the Red Sox recently which could have changed the game. Replay would have surely reversed the call but baseball games are long enough—I don’t need to go to the booth??! The Umpires aren’t perfect but they are right most of the time, let’s keep replay out of it!

MAKING IT “OFFICIAL”: This week the Saints were the home of what could be the first full time female official in NFL History. Mississippi native Sarah Thomas who started at the high school ranks back in the mid 1990’s, has surely paid her dues after catching the officiating bug while attending a referee meeting with her brother back in the mid nineties.

Since then, Sarah has worked her way up the ladder, where after years of officiating prep games, she was promoted to the college ranks working Conference USA contests.. She also worked professionally in UFL games. Sarah’s story may be surprising to many around the country but not to the Saints who have gotten used to seeing her at many Training Camp practices the past few years.

25 year NFL veteran official Walt Coleman told me he gives Sarah an endorsement for putting in the time and working her way through the system the right way. Sean Payton and many of the Saints also praised her for the job she has done and wouldn’t be surprised if she qualifies for the regular season, where if everything goes well could come in 2014 as she is one of 21 finalists.

I found it interesting that her biggest obstacles weren’t the reactions of players and fans it was the drawbacks with the officials uniforms which are more tailored for men and the fact that she cuts back on her makeup and likes to put her hair up to be more incognito! I’m rooting for Sarah quite the trailblazer where it seems only a matter of time before she gets her shot.
NOBODY ASKED ME BUT: There is no city in our country like New Orleans, a fact the people here take great pride in. Its been my home away from home the past eight years covering the city’s beloved Saints where I spend parts of July and all of August. Its great to see the growth here post Katrina where I notice more and more businesses moving here each Training Camp I cover. In fact, I’ve seen an acceleration of growth in the past year.

In the Big Easy, you notice this culture marches to its own beat whether its the music, the food or its many parades. Its a unique city in so many ways—where nowhere else in the country do they serve beer at the local gym or at 9:30 in the morning from a vendor at Training camp. There are so many great places to eat here, I seem to hear about a new place everyday. Its been a great ride in the Big Easy and I have enjoyed every step of the way. They haven’t fully recovered from Katrina, but they’ve made a huge comeback.

EXTRA POINT: Saw the USA Today preseason rankings are out—-wish we could just fast forward to 2014? Is their anything more useless than the coaches poll?? Why do we have to wait through another season of the BCS mess??!!!







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