Nader Mirfiq Eats, Sleeps & Breathes New Orleans Saints, AND He’s on a Bigger Mission

The New Orleans Saints are inching closer and closer under the 2021 salary cap.  On Thursday, March 4, they made a tough decision to cut their 12-year veteran punter and fan favorite, Thomas Morstead, and I interviewed Sports Overtime podcast host Nader Mirfiq right before he broke that news.

Nader grew up a Saints fan, browsing sports pages of the newspaper in his dad’s corner store and going to games long before the success of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. 

He says it makes being a fan today that much sweeter because he endured the Saints’ struggles of the past. He loves the full circle journey.

We talk about everything from Nader’s experience sharing Saints spirit with his 4-year-old son, how Sports Overtime began more than 9 years ago, and how Nader has built valuable relationships to grow the show. 

Now, he wants to use his platform to help others.  Nader feeds the homeless in New Orleans every week, and he hopes to distribute 5,200 meals (100 per week) by the end of 2021.  He’s committed to thinking outside the box, helping them with whatever basic needs they desire – shirts, shoes, baby wipes, etc., even getting his friends and followers involved.

Finally, scroll to around 25:45 for some Saints free agency hot takes, including quarterbacks, tight ends (could a reunion with Jimmy Graham be in sight?) and of course special teams.

LISTEN FOR THESE QUOTES:

  • (6:03) “This always resonates with me in my brain – my grandfather used to always tell me this: If you can’t appreciate something when it’s bad, then you can’t be on the bandwagon when it’s good.”
  • (9:44) “Having a kid wanting to be into the Saints reminds me of myself when I was growing up.  It’s just awesome to see it, and it just brings joy to me.”
  • (21:45) “At the end of the day, when you die, the only thing you’re taking with you is your good and bad deeds.  So if I can do this every Thursday and get some good deeds that will add up for me to get into Heaven, I’m good.  That’s my ultimate goal with this.”
  • (29:23) “I’m not a gambling type of guy, but if it’s the one time I would gamble it would be this time … if you’d have Russell Wilson, Mike Thomas, and Kamara with our O-line, that’d just gonna be scary.”

  • (32:58) “No. 1 we have Mickey Loomis, and No. 2, this isn’t something new.  The Saints do this every year where they get underneath the cap.  It won’t surprise me if they get underneath the cap and still be able to sign a few players to fill some holes.”

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Thomas Morstead grateful for his career as a New Orleans Saint

Nader Mirfiq Twitter

Nader Mirfiq Instagram

Listen to Sports Overtime on Boot Krewe Media

Sports Overtime Episode with Thomas Morstead

Sports Overtime Episode with Jameis 1 of 1

Sports Overtime Episode with Justin Hardee

Rachel Jones Twitter

Rachel Jones Instagram

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“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Need a Podcast Recommendation? Look No Further

I often tell the story that I never once wavered when I pursued sports journalism as a child, in college and as a career for four years.

As a 12-year-old I stood in front of my mirror “reporting live” from the Super Bowl, and spent hours writing postgame New Orleans Saints commentary in my spiral notebook.

I thought it was ESPN or bust.

So you can imagine my devastation when I was laid off from my job at NOLA.com in 2015 due to corporate downsizing. How could this happen to me? At that time, I thought I was on track to check all the career boxes, not stopping to consider where things like a family life would fit in. 💒

IMG_4006I had a steady boyfriend (who’s now my husband), and we would marry 2 1/2 years later and move to Lake Charles, where he works. Sometimes I wonder whether I would have hesitated to leave what was a dream role reporting on New Orleans sports if I still had that job on June 2, 2018 (our wedding day, for those of you curious about that precise date).

God works in mysterious ways, but He always has a plan. 🙏

In August 2020, I felt a tug toward toward graduate school to beef up my credentials and enhance my public relations and digital marketing portfolio. Cue the most impactful professional experience of my life. 🥁🥁

My layoff had built up inside me a constant feeling of imposter syndrome. I felt I didn’t have the authority to share my opinions online anymore, even about topics I cared deeply about (i.e. the New Orleans Saints). However, my first online master’s class at Florida, Branding Using Social & Mobile Media, proved that all we need to stand out and show influence is our voice, experiences, a channel and an audience.

RJ+BlackGold+NOS+podcast+v1So I decided to launch an offseason podcast project called Black and Gold Rush.

After the Saints’ fourth straight playoff appearance and a dismal finish to the season, I knew my fellow Saints fans would need a passionate, hopeful voice in their ear. That’s what I strive to be in my life! 🎙️

The Saints still have tons of questions to answer, (don’t get hopes up about Russell Wilson just yet!) but one thing is for sure. I will be showing up consistently this offseason with stories both on-the-field and off-the-field that inform and inspire our community of Saints fans. We see this team as more than just athletes.

If the Who Dat cheer sends chills down your spine like it does for me, here are some episodes I recommend most! Click the links to listen ⚜️⚜️

Be sure to tap Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you never miss the show. Episode 11 with Sports Overtime’s Nader Mirfiq drops Monday, March 8.

One last thing – if you love what you hear, I will love YOU if you leave a review on iTunes! As I remind my husband way too often, my love language is words of affirmation 😊

Cheers to finding what you were born to do! 📣 And if it’s not exactly what you scripted, it just might be better.

-Rachel

Drew Brees is My Son’s Hero (Brain Injury Awareness Month Episode)

One in 500 school-age children each year receive a head injury severe enough to be hospitalized.  On July 28, 2015, young Luke Siegel suffered a horrific accident in Lubbock, Texas, when a modified golf cart landed on him and his brain was deprived of oxygen for more than 7 minutes.

Luke grew up passionate about sports and competition, developing a special bond with his father, Tim, who was born in New Orleans.  Now it’s a different life for Luke and his family.

But with help and inspiration from his hero, Drew Brees, and his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints, Luke continues to make strides in his therapy. (Update: Luke died in August).

Tim and Luke have attended eight Saints games together since the accident, and Tim Siegel says Brees now may be “the most important person in Luke’s life.”

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and Tim, a former pro tennis player and tennis coach at Texas Tech University, joined me on Black and Gold Rush to discuss how the Saints have impacted their lives through more than just their play on the field. 

You can help Team Luke Hope for Minds by donating $3 in March at https://www.teamlukehopeforminds.org/.  Wear green on March 3rd for Team Luke Hope for Minds Day! 

Since 2018, Team Luke Hope for Minds has reached children in 28 states and granted $750,000 to children who have suffered brain injuries.  The organization provides financial & emotional support, but most of all – HOPE to families.

LISTEN FOR THESE QUOTES:

  • “I asked Luke just a few years ago to move his tongue if the Saints are going to win, and he moved his tongue.  That was the beginning of my realization and others that Luke is in there, that Luke understands.”

  • “When Luke is not engaged or he’s unable to open his eyes, the therapist will ask Luke, ‘Can you do this for Drew? Can you do this for the Saints?’ And he’ll try because he heard the words Drew Brees.”

  • “March is an important month for everyone that associates with brain injuries because what people don’t realize is brain injuries among children is more prevalent than anyone could ever imagine.”

  • “5 inspirations from Luke: Find your passion, don’t ever quit, lean on friends, family, coaches, siblings, counselors, make good choices, and No. 5 is have faith.”

  • “Although I never dreamed that my son would be unable to talk, unable to play sports, I also know that he is making an impact on so many thousands of people all over the world.”

  • “I have two choices – one is to sulk and lay in bed, and two is to make a difference and give Luke the best opportunity for life that we can. I will never stop helping others until I take my last breath.”

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Tim Siegel Twitter

Rachel Jones Twitter

Rachel Jones Instagram

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

New Orleans Saints-Tampa Bay Rivalry Intensifying (Karen Loftus Joins the Podcast)

There’s something special about finding your passion in life. Voice of the New Orleans Saints Zach Strief announced Feb. 19 he’s leaving the WWL broadcast booth to become the Saints’ assistant offensive line coach, following his passion and returning to the game he loves.

Today’s episode of Black and Gold Rush is all about passion.  Tampa Bay sports reporter Karen Loftus joins the show to discuss her career, which included a 3-year stop in New Orleans, covering the Bucs’ run to the Super Bowl, and the state of the NFC South.

After Tampa Bay dominated Super Bowl LV, the NFC South may no longer be the Saints’ division to lose.  A lot will depend on the offseason and NFL Draft, but one thing is certain – Tom Brady is coming back.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Zach Strief’s announcement reminded me why I was inspired to start my podcast
  • Next week’s episode with Tim Siegel (Team Luke Hope for Minds) will be incredible in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month

  • Karen Loftus explains what it’s like being a city’s “good luck charm”

  • Covering two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks so early in her career

  • The experience of Super Bowl LV

  • Why the NFC South could be a two-team race in 2021

  • What Karen really misses most about living in New Orleans

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

How Zach Strief went from ‘never’ to Saints coaching job, departing WWL Radio

Saints coaching staff reports: tweet from Jeff Duncan

Karen Loftus Twitter

Karen Loftus Instagram

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

New Orleans Saints Free Agency In-Depth, Kris Richard’s Impact (With ESPN’s Mike Triplett)

Free agency news is happening fast in New Orleans, and there’s no one better to break down the Saints’ biggest questions on Lundi Gras 2021 than ESPN NFL Nation reporter Mike Triplett.

An Iowa native, Mike has covered the Saints since the 2005 season.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Why Jameis Winston is the Saints’ frontrunner to start at QB
  • Is Trey Hendrickson the odd man out among the Saints’ edge rushers?
  • Will this be the offseason Marshon Lattimore gets a big contract extension, or will the Saints use the CB as a trade chip?
  • Marcus Williams is another question mark … how will the Saints address the safety position?
  • Impact of secondary coach Kris Richard’s hire, as well as Ryan Nielsen staying to coach the defensive line
  • Mike’s prediction for JJ Watt’s free agency destination

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Bold NFL Offseason Predictions for all 32 Teams – ESPN.com

Hiring ‘Legion of Boom’ architect a good start, but decisions loom for Saints secondary

ESPN NFL Nation New Orleans Saints Page

Mike Triplett Twitter

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

NFL Offseason Begins (Detroit Lions Reporter Tori Petry Joins the Podcast)

Not one, not two, but THREE former New Orleans Saints are now on the Detroit Lions’ coaching staff – head coach Dan Campbell, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell.

Lions team reporter Tori Petry joins me to discuss early offseason headlines, including Matthew Stafford not heading to New Orleans.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Why Tori wanted to “run through a brick wall” after Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference (5:10) and why people will want to “run to be part of his coaching staff” (22:30)
  • Campbell’s upcoming “roster retool” in Detroit, as QB Matthew Stafford will reportedly be traded to the L.A. Rams
  • The Saints have reportedly hired a replacement for Aaron Glenn at secondary coach – Kris Richard.
  • Tori talks about Matthew Stafford’s assets on and off the field
  • Rachel teaches Tori a fun fact about former Saints QB Mark Brunell
  • Covering the NFL during COVID-19, including testing protocol and the 2021 Senior Bowl

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

@sportstori on Twitter

@sportstori on Instagram

@sportstori on TikTok

Watch Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference

Tori Petry interviews Dan Campbell one-on-one

New Orleans Saints adding Kris Richard to coaching staff: report

REPORT: Lions to trade Stafford to Rams for Goff & draft picks

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Celebrating the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl Anniversary with Jeff Duncan

On this Super Bowl Sunday edition of the Black and Gold Rush Podcast, sports columnist and author Jeff Duncan joins the show. 

Winning Super Bowl XLIV in just Sean Payton and Drew Brees’ fourth season with the New Orleans Saints was an incredible achievement, one that lifted up an entire city 11 years ago today.

Now with Brees’ retirement likely looming, that victorious night Feb. 7, 2010 will forever live as Saints’ fans’ greatest memory.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • How Jeff Duncan’s third book, Payton & Brees, came to life
  • Pulling back the curtain on why the New Orleans Saints’ offense has succeeded for 15 years
  • Sean Payton and Drew Brees’ incredible relationship built on hard work, preparation and communication

  • Life lessons that even the casual football fan can learn from Payton & Brees

  • With one Super Bowl title and Super Bowl MVP award, what is Drew Brees’ NFL legacy?

  • The New Orleans Saints’ path forward at quarterback and as a team in 2021

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Buy Payton & Brees: The Men Who Built the Greatest Offense in NFL History
Jeff Duncan Twitter
Subscribe to The Athletic.com
Flashback: Drew Brees Super Bowl XLIV Postgame Press Conference

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Saints Broadcasting Coordinator Caroline Gonzalez Takes Us Behind the Scenes

This episode of the Black and Gold Rush Podcast is a hope-filled conversation with New Orleans Saints broadcasting coordinator Caroline Gonzalez.

Stay tuned for a special Saints Super Bowl anniversary episode Sunday, Feb. 7, with Rachel and Jeff Duncan!

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • How Caroline discovered her path to sports broadcasting through basketball at Loyola University in New Orleans
  • The importance of great mentors
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic changed strategies for the media in 2020
  • Ways Caroline balances her many job responsibilities with the New Orleans Saints, Pelicans and WDSU

  • Advice from Caroline for achieving your dreams, particularly in sports broadcasting

  • Why Saints fans should take a collective deep breath this offseason

  • Caroline’s all-time favorite interviews as broadcasting coordinator

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Caroline Gonzalez Twitter

NewOrleansSaints.com

Caroline Interviews Tony Dungy – Sept. 25, 2020

Caroline Interviews Terence Blanchard – Feb. 22, 2019

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Exploring Terry Fontenot’s Story of Hard Work, Plus the State of Saints QBs with Rod Walker

Rod Walker joins the Black and Gold Rush Podcast to discuss his latest work. 

Rod and I talk about the impact of a great story with Rod’s recent feature on Terry Fontenot – former New Orleans Saints Assistant GM for Pro Personnel who began as a Saints marketing intern 18 years ago and was just hired by the Atlanta Falcons to run their organization.

If you’re determined to achieve a goal, hard work and passion are key ingredients.

Fontenot is just one of several Saints coaches and staff members to gain outside interest early this offseason because of the Saints’ continued success, so we’ll discuss how the Saints move forward filling vacancies and addressing the quarterback position.

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT:

  • Rod Walker’s journey from industrial engineering to sports journalism

  • Stories of “cutting our teeth in the industry” with high school sports

  • Why Terry Fontenot’s family is so proud of him

  • How Fontenot’s story serves as inspiration for all of us to work a little harder

  • Where the Saints go from here at QB, including some results of Rod Walker’s informal Twitter poll

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

Terry Fontenot Feature by Rod Walker on Nola.com

Rod Walker Column: If Drew Brees calls it quits, who’s the Saints’ starting quarterback in 2021?

Rod Walker Twitter

Rachel W. Jones Twitter

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Another Saints Playoff Loss: Was it Drew Brees’ Last Ride? Analysis with Chris Rosvoglou

On this episode of the Black and Gold Rush Podcast, Chris Rosvoglou joins me to break down a disappointing end to the Saints’ 2020 season. 

Though born and raised in New York, Chris has developed an unbreakable bond with the New Orleans Saints and is currently the youngest person at age 23 to host two Saints-focused podcasts simultaneously.  He and I also give our best guesses as to what’s ahead in the Saints offseason.

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT:

  • How turnovers doomed the Saints in the playoffs and especially against Tampa Bay
  • Is this truly the end of the road for Drew Brees after 15 years in New Orleans?
  • Trends from the 2020 season can the Saints carry into next season
  • Who’s the top free agent the Saints must keep to stay in contention? Marcus Williams? Trey Hendrickson? Someone else?
  • Plus, our top moments from the Drew Brees-Sean Payton era
  •  

CONNECT WITH US / LINKS MENTIONED:

@RosvoglouReport on Twitter

Straight-Up Saints Podcast website

Sports Overtime website

 Rachel W. Jones Blog

SUBSCRIBE, RATE AND REVIEW:

“Black and Gold Rush is awesome and authentic, and I can’t wait for more.”<— If that sounds like you, please rate and review the show! —> It’s easy – scroll to the bottom on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate out of 5 stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then let me know what you loved most about the episode!