In the early days of the ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecast hosted by Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford, it would be Meredith, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who would break into a rendition of "Turn Out the Lights, the Party is Over," when the losing team was in the fourth quarter with time running out and no chance of a comeback. Well, it's about time to turn out the lights on this, unique, sometimes chaotic, but never uneventful New Orleans Saints 2012 season, because the party is definitely over.

What was going to be a continuation of previous successes which Saints fans have come to enjoy under the Mickey Loomis/Sean Payton era, quickly turned into a horrific example of a collapse of a former champion by the self-destruction within the organization, starting with Bountygate -- that awe-inspiring example of damage control at its best and worst.

Practice makes perfect is phrase that brings back memories for me of the sixth grade, when I had to continue to recite the math tables to make them become indelibly ingrained in my brain forever. In sports, I have heard it said more often than not "perfect practice makes for a perfect outcome."

And a Navy Seal friend of mine says he lives by the concept of "train like you fight and fight like you train, and train and train" - one of my favorites.

Last Sunday, The New York Times ran a story in its sports section, "In the N.F.L., Practice Can Make Perfect, but Then So Can the Lack of It," to discuss the theories on just what level of practice is required "to become a true expert at something."

I never will forget the phrase "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," which was part of the voice over to the opening scenes to ABC's "Wide World of Sports" every Saturday years ago. While I barely remember the scene of the thrill of victory, to this day, I can vividly remember the scene of the agony of defeat, which had a ski jumper careen off the side of the ski jump just before take off, only to crash into the grandstand, ski poles, and people during his tumultuous, horrific fall to his ultimate resting place at the bottom of the slope. It certainly made an impression on me, as to the potential damage control in sports participation.

But what about the emotional side of such a personal defeat, after what may have been this ski jumper's years of preparation for this one great moment in time, only to come crashing down to not only physical injury, but also having to live with years of watching his defeat every Saturday on a popular network sports television show?

After the debacle we all witnessed last Sunday in New York when the New Orleans Saints were dismantled by the Giants, interim head coach Joe Vitt said, "that was an embarrassment...This was a pounding." As such, the Saints need to take a lesson from three players, (one of whom is a Saint), who sustained career-threatening injuries and just how they achieve a "comeback" after incredible physical and emotional setbacks. Maybe then the Saints might learn how to handle adversity more effectively than what they have demonstrated to their fans so far this season.

While the game cannot go on without players, there are enough players around such that when one goes down due to an injury, somebody always will take his place on the playing field during the commercial break.

Compared to the NFL baseline of seven days rest between games, assuming no Monday or Thursday night games, the best competitive advantage comes during the bye week for a team with 13-15 days of rest, says Advanced NFL Stats, LLC. Why, because teams tend to get healthier during the break. "Teams coming off a bye play better on both sides of the ball, and getting healthier seems to be -- at least in part- the mechanism for that improvement."

The Saints had their rest at week 6, while their Thursday night opponent, the Falcons, had their bye in week 7. So which team has the "rest advantage," based on only three actual days of active rest? I say active rest, because both teams must practice and that requires work.

Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 8/22/13
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