Half marathon recap

IMG_3727I was hoping to beat my personal best of 2:08 at the Rock n Roll half marathon yesterday.

That didn’t happen. And it really wasn’t close.

The first hour was great and I was on pace to beat 2:08. Unfortunately you have to run two hours.

I rolled in at 2:15 after running into trouble during miles 10-13. My hamstrings tightened up a little bit and I think my sickness-induced two-week layoff prior to the race contributed to that. Oh well.

The weather was gorgeous and the crowd along the race course was fantastic. That was my fifth half marathon and my times vary, but I’m pretty consistent: 2:12, 2:08, 2:28, 2:13 and 2:15. The 2:28 was the Jazz Half debacle last October during which much of the field wilted in the heat and humidity. I like to toss that one out.

My family was a great cheering section at the end. That made it all worth it.

Until next time…

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Half marathon time

I’m heading out to run my fourth Rock n Roll Half Marathon and the weather is perfect. I’m hoping to beat my personal best of 2:08, but since I’ve been sick and coughing for the better part of two weeks, I’m not sure it’ll happen. We’ll see. A long running layoff before the race may become a new strategy!

My four previous half marathons look like this: 2:12, 2:08, 2:28 and 2:13. The 2:28 was the Jazz Half debacle a couple of years ago during which much of the field wilted in the heat and humidity. Like the lowest test score in school, I throw that one out.

I’ll check back in later.

Statement from Tom Benson on ownership transfer of Saints and Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON RESTRUCTURES OWNERSHIP TRANSFER AND CONTROL OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AND NEW ORLEANS PELICANS TO HIS WIFE GAYLE BENSON

For Immediate Release: January 22, 2015

New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson has restructured the ownership transfer and control of the Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. The transfer of ownership will not occur until the time of Mr. Benson’s death. At that time, Gayle Benson will assume control of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, in addition to other Benson properties.

“This is something I have thought about and prayed about for a while now,” said Benson. “Over the past 60 years, I have been fortunate enough to build a number of successful businesses not only in New Orleans but also in San Antonio. Throughout those years, I have included my family as well as a strong management team around me to run these businesses, whether they be banks, automobile dealerships, television stations or professional sports franchises. I want to continue this model of proven success. This is about the legacy of these two teams and everything we have done for the good of the city of New Orleans and our region –my primary goal is to give the organization the foundation to live on after me for many, many years.”

Benson added, “I agree that this is somewhat of a change in what has been formally declared but this is best for our teams and our community.”

The New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans will remain under the same management structure, with Gayle Benson serving as Owner that has seen both teams prosper and grow. The management structure of having a small team of senior managers oversee both the Saints and Pelicans will remain in place. The executive level management will continue to be led by Dennis Lauscha (President) and Mickey Loomis (Executive Vice President/General Manager). The senior level management team will remain in place with Greg Bensel (Senior Vice President of Communications/Broadcasting), Jean-Paul Dardenne (Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships), Ben Hales (Senior Vice President of Marketing & Business Development), Ed Lang (Senior Vice President/CFO), Vicky Neumeyer (Senior Vice President/General Counsel) and Mike Stanfield (Senior Vice President of Sales).

“Continuity is very important and this plan ensures that,” said Benson. “We have had the same management team in place that oversees both teams for a number of years. It has proven to be successful and it works. Dennis and Mickey will continue to run the operations as they have done day-to-day for the last ten years or so. They consult with me daily, but they will continue to have the same authority they have always had with making decisions, large and small and this will continue even when Gayle becomes owner. This is a good structure…the only difference is that my wife Gayle, will be in control of the Saints and Pelicans when I die, which I can assure you will not be anytime soon.”

Mr. Benson will continue to represent the Saints and Pelicans at the various league and owners’ meetings. And as has been the practice for many years, joining him will be Lauscha and Loomis, as well as Gayle Benson.

“While I have slowed down a bit due to this bad knee, I am still very actively involved in every aspect of my businesses and take part daily in decisions that affect all of my businesses,” said Benson. “I enjoy it, I truly do. I love being in the office and being around the coaches and players and staff and being a part of what they are doing. I have just come to a point in my life where I need to make some tough decisions on how things are going to be planned out. My wife, Gayle, is very important to me. She is born in New Orleans. She has been a businesswoman in this city for many years and is actively involved in many charitable organizations, the Catholic Church, hospitals, schools and university boards, to name a few…I am very proud of her. She is the most logical and natural person closest to me that will ensure the continuity, the stability and the success of our Saints and Pelicans in the city of New Orleans for a long time. The future is bright and secure for both teams here in New Orleans. Plus, she will be surrounded by the best management team in sports in my opinion, just like I have been, who are committed to this community and committed to winning championships.”

“Finally, when family members are involved, decision are always tougher,” said Benson. “My family, as they have been their whole lives, will be very well taken care of, however, this is about making the correct decision as it pertains specifically to the future of the Saints and Pelicans and their long-term success in the city of New Orleans, where they belong.”

The NFL and NBA has been informed of the succession plans set forth by Benson.

-30-

Flashback: Sean Payton era began nine years ago today

Photo courtesy: NewOrleansSaints.com

On January 18, 2006, Saints owner Tom Benson made a hire that would change the direction of his franchise. Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Sean Payton beat out the likes of Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, former Packers head coach Mike Sherman and former Rams head coach Mike Martz.

The Green Bay Packers almost got Payton first, but went with Mike McCarthy instead.

It’s pretty clear Benson made the right call.

Payton wasted no time changing the Saints’ fortunes. Coming off a 3-13 Katrina-marred season, Payton led the team to a 10-6 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship against the Chicago Bears. Three years later the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.

As the team’s 14th head coach, Payton has compiled an 80-48 regular season record and a 6-4 mark in the playoffs.

Here is the front page of the Times-Picayune the day after Payton was hired.

Video: Questions During Commercial Breaks, pt. 10

Flashback: Mike Ditka fired by the Saints 15 years ago today

29COV_S.fpIt was a disastrous hire from the beginning.

Mike Ditka, who was 60-years-old when the Saints fired him on January 5, 2000, had a 15-33 record in his three years with the team. General manager Bill Kuharich was also fired in the housecleaning by Saints owner Tom Benson.

In a statement, Benson said, “It became necessary to clear the slate.”

Indeed.

Here’s a story from the day Ditka got the pink slip.

Video: Sugar Bowl brings millions, happy tourists to New Orleans

The year in review on ScottWalkerTV.com

happy-new-year-confettiAnother year has come and gone, so here’s a look back at what happened right here in 2014.

  • This website was viewed 21,000 times
  • 254 pictures were uploaded
  • Top referring sites were Twitter and Facebook
  • The site had visitors from 111 countries. The U.S. led the way, of course, with the U.K. and Brazil taking the second and third spots

Busiest day – March 17th. That day’s post? “It could be a crackhead! The Mobile Leprechaun turns eight”

New posts totaled 122, bringing the site’s total to 1,002 posts.

The top posts were:

1) When did you join Twitter? Find out here (site doesn’t seem to work anymore)

2) It could be a crackhead! The Mobile Leprechaun turns eight

3) From Rome: Five Questions with NBC correspondent Jay Gray

4) NFL draft proves some are still clueless about the power of social media

5) Opinion: The Saints are getting younger and better with recent moves

It was a fun year on my YouTube channel, too. Check out some of the best (or worst) videos HERE. One of my favorite new additions was ‘Questions During Commercial Breaks.’

Here’s to a great 2015! Happy New Year and thanks for occasionally popping in here to check things out.

– Scott

Blooper video: Scott walks into the forecast… with a James Bond twist

Thanks to my co-worker Bill for making me look less ridiculous. Or more ridiculous. I can’t decide.

Photos: “Saints on 6” behind the scenes

Saints’ inconsistent play leaves everyone befuddled

new-orleans-saints-wallpaper__400x300The Saints play the Bears Monday night and I have no idea what will happen. No one does. We’ve all been consistently and pathetically wrong about this team since the opening kickoff. So today I’m not going to waste your time with empty words in an empty column about the drama of the past week. Forget Kenny Vaccaro and Joe Morgan. 

Whatever is happening behind the scenes boils down to this — the offense and defense are playing inexplicably bad right now and have for most of the season. That much is clear. Let’s stop beating the drum of hope and holding on to preseason dreams that have turned into regular season nightmares. Spare yourself the time, trouble and effort and begin looking forward to a high draft choice in 2015 and a chance to get better next season. Maybe.

About Sean Payton’s record

With Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, the Saints wrapped up their fourth .500 or worse season since 2006. Sean Payton has been on the sidelines for three of them. Not bad considering where the Saints once lived in the NFL neighborhood. Still, a troubling trend. In nine seasons of the Payton-Brees era, four of them have been average to below average. There’s some greatness and a Super Bowl championship mixed in there, but mediocrity is slowly becoming the norm. The glory days were 2009-11 and Sean Payton has had trouble recapturing that magic. 

2006: 10-6

2007: 7-9

2008: 8-8

2009: 13-3

2010: 11-5

2011: 13-3

2012: 7-9

2013: 11-5

2014: 5-8 (so far)

About the defense

I look forward to discussing this on our Saints on 6 pregame show Monday night. Maybe we were wrong to expect the defense to be good this year after it finished #4 in the NFL in 2013. Everyone expected a bad defense coming off the dreadful Steve Spagnuolo era. Maybe Rob Ryan and his troops got lucky. Maybe they overachieved. Maybe this is the reality. Maybe last season was smoke and mirrors. 

About Monday night

I want to say the Saints will be humiliated on national television, having not recovered from getting blown out of the Superdome by the previously dysfunctional and inefficient Panthers. If I write that, the Saints will certainly win. 

I also want to say the Saints will beat the Bears decisively, because they were so humiliated last week and it’s a prime time game and Drew Brees and blah, blah, blah. If I write that, the Saints will certainly lose.

So I don’t know what will happen and won’t pretend that I do. 

Enjoy the game. 

A few thoughts on Panthers/Saints (Updated)

UPDATE: This was all wrong. So very wrong.

I’ve gone on record as liking the Saints to win their second straight, 34-17 over the Panthers.

Here’s why:

Panthers QB Cam Newton is a disaster. Carolina is 27th in the league in points scored. Newton has been sacked 25 times in the past six games. Cam Jordan and Junior Galette just perked up.

The Panthers’ defense is Swiss cheese. Carolina has been out scored 178-85 in the first half this season. A fast start by the Saints will be huge.

Drew Brees should feast on the Panthers young secondary. A rookie, Bene’ Benwikere, is making his first start at cornerback and rookie Tre Boston is making his second start at free safety. They’ve never faced Brees before.

Jimmy Graham will emerge. The Saints All-Pro tight end has been too quiet for too long. He wasn’t targeted last week. With former Saint Roman Harper in the Panthers’ secondary, I expect Graham to be targeted often today.

If the Saints have any thoughts of doing anything the rest of this season, they have to beat the Panthers convincingly.

Saints wooing Who Dat Nation after lackluster season

IMG_1088.JPGWe are being seduced. And we’re falling for it again.

Just when we were about to walk away, the Saints have come crawling back to us, begging us to stay. This was going to finally be the year — again. Dreams of a second Super Bowl title should be dancing in our heads instead of flickering playoff hopes.

An 0-2 start became 1-3, 2-4, 4-7 and 5-7. That’s enough turbulence to make frequent fliers nauseous. At 4-7, fans were jumping ship. The Who Dat Nation was in peril. Drew Brees was declining. Sean Payton and Rob Ryan hated each other.

But then the Saints dominated the Steelers. The defense, despite giving up two garbage touchdowns late, played like everyone thought it would when the season started. Brees threw five touchdown passes and played mistake-free. It was a performance seen in only one other game this season — the 44-23 dismantling of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in week 8.

I wrote last week before the Steelers game that the Saints aren’t a good football team — 5-7 says they still aren’t. But they’re better, and this is when a team wants to be playing its best football. Champions are made in December. The team that gets hot at the right time is capable of doing anything.

So was last week the turning point or just another tease? The Panthers, Bears, Falcons and Buccaneers down the stretch sets up perfectly for the Saints to run the table. A 9-7 finish with a division championship and home playoff game would reset things nicely headed into the postseason. That can happen if they’ve turned the corner — IF we’re not being teased again.

Linebacker Junior Galette fired some people up this week when he was questioned about a lack of veteran leadership on the Saints defense after the offseason departures of key players like Jabari Greer, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper. He said the guys in the Saints’ locker room right now are better than all the guys who left.

Vilma and Smith fired back at Galette on Twitter. Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita, other former players, fired back as well. They said Galette should win a championship then talk.

Valid point.

Still, Galette was sticking up for his guys on defense who have been criticized all season. He’s not going to admit a lack of leadership. He knows he’s in it for the long haul with young guys like himself, Cam Jordan, Kenny Vaccaro and others.

If this mid-week spat helps give the defense a late-season burst, so be it. If some feathers are ruffled in the process, oh well.

The players in the locker room now are the ones who have to find a way to win. Find a way to the playoffs. Vilma and Smith were key cogs in the 2009 championship machine, but those days are long gone.

The future is now. Four more games to write a 2014 success story, for Galette to build his own legacy.

Just hope this isn’t another seduction that will leave us feeling cheated again in the end.

Saints 34, Panthers 17

News teams assemble and compete to “Save the Coast”

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Posing with the prizes we didn’t come close to winning.

A call was put out for for local media members to get together at the Pelicans facility on Airline Drive to compete for Coast-saving supremacy.

The Pelicans recently launched the ‘Quest for the Coast’ game on the team app. In a nutshell, a flying Pierre the Pelican moves along the coast collecting items that help with coastal restoration and avoiding the ones that hurt. The Pelicans are the first NBA team to launch such an in-app game.

To help bring awareness to the new game and the Pelicans’ focus on coastal restoration, the ‘Quest for the Coast Media Challenge’ was born. To make sure we all showed up, they offered to feed us. That guarantees attendance.

The trash talk heated up Thursday morning, hours before the games began. Then, at noon, it was time for people to back up all the talk.

I defeated WWL sports anchor Bryan Salmond in my first round matchup, but lost in round two to WGNO’s Anne Cutler by THREE points. Devastating. The final saw WWL Radio’s T-Bob Hebert and WVUE’s Garland Gillen battle it out. Hebert, the crowd favorite, lost a tight one, allowing Gillen to claim the title.

My colleagues, sports anchors Sharief Ishaq and Fletcher Mackel, both lost in round one. Of all the competitors, Fletcher had the low score total of the day — 41.1. Embarrassing.

There were even trophies. No one on Team 6 received one.

Better luck next year.

Check out the photos below. Some are mine, some are borrowed from various participants’ twitter accounts.

 

Video: Questions During Commercial Breaks, pt. 9

How do you holiday shop? Do you get it done early or procrastinate?

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