Mayor Nagin On Super Bowl XLIV

If you're a regular reader you know I have a segment called Another 'Not Really Sports Related' Moment. While covering the US Mayors' Conference today for our other magazine, I never expected to talk sports, let alone cover anything from a sports angle at a conference of mayors who mainly will talk about dollars and sense. (Or making sense of U.S. dollars).

As in some cases, my NRSRM turned out to be just that - sports related - and a bit more. Read on.

Mayors across the country descended on Washington this week for the annual Conference of Mayors where, among many other items, they will discuss budgets, city services, and how the people's money will be spent for the betterment of U.S. cities.

I caught up with New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin today to ask him a question, or two.

1) On Haiti: With New Orleans just starting to rebound from its own catastrophe (Hurricane Katrina), are the people of New Orleans ready to support the people of Haiti?

Mayor Nagin: "Absolutely. The Haitian community came together for us right after Katrina and donated about $40,000 to New Orleans. That was huge for them to do that. So, now we've organized all our media companies, we've organized our community leadership, and we are plugging into donations for Haiti in two specific ways. First, we are pushing the 'text Haiti 90999', and then visiting the Red Cross web site to go in and donate that way. Then the US Conference of Mayors and everyone here, we've been keeping abreast on what's going on in Haiti. We have our urban design group ready to go over to Haiti, and mayors from around the country have sent in emergency preparedness teams to help out in Haiti. I'm prepared to go. We want to help."

2) On the New Orleans Saints' chances of going to the Super Bowl this year . Mayor Nagain, proudly, introduced himself to the media today during the opening press conference as "Ray Nagin, Mayor of the Super Bowl bound New Orleans Saints", so I wanted to get his thoughts.
"I think it's going to be a wonderful game. Minnesota is a wonderful team, but those Saints are just so ready. We haven't done anything like this in over 40 years, so the Who Dat Nation is going to be on fire Sunday."
You can read more on the Who Dat Nation here (the movement is even on Facebook), and also read the Playoff Prayer so eloquently written by Rev. Tony Ricard. (Also, there's more WDN here).

[Update: The Saints defeated Minnesota 31-28 in OT, and are indeed Super Bowl bound!]

Also attending today's conference was NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. Kelly made an appearance at the CGI Communication, Inc. booth today from 11-3.

I missed his appearance as everyone was preparing to see First Lady Michelle Obama, who addressed the mayors and attending businessmen to pitch her campaign on combating childhood obesity. (I did get a signed autographed picture of Kelly, however).

Next month the First Lady plans to launch a major initiative on childhood obesity that mobilizes the combined resources of the government, mayors, and non-profit sectors to put in place commonsense, innovative solutions that empower families and communities to make healthy decisions for children.

First Lady, Michelle Obama with Minnesota mayor, Elizabeth Kautz (president of US Mayors conference) 
and Douglas Palmer, mayor of Trenton, New Jersey (r). Photo/CD Brown..

With children spending more time playing with media devices, and less time exercising, nearly one-third of American children are overweight or obese.

"Obesity is also one of the biggest threats to the American economy. If we continue on our current path, in ten yers, nearly fifty percent of all Americans will be obese - not just overweight, but obese", explained Mrs. Obama.

Mayors accepting the challenge to combat obesity include Oklahoma's mayor, Mick Cornett. Cornett lost 40 pounds to reach his target weight.

"That's the kind of impact each of you can have", stated the First Lady. "That's the power that raising awareness and setting an example yourself can have on an entire city or town."

The mayors are scheduled to meet President Obama at the White House Thursday morning.