Former Coach: Cook honored as Saints' Coach of the Year
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Jan. 17, 2019
Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook, shown here celebrating his Pioneers' Division III state championship last month in New Orleans, has been honored as the New Orleans Saints' Coach of the Year, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl and possibly even the Super Bowl. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
Everybody who knows anything about high school football in the state over the past three decades knows Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook.
Through all of his great success as a head coach, Cook has received numerous honors, including being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
But Cook discovered an award he’d never known about just before Christmas.
Shortly after his Pioneers won the Division III state championship, Cook was informed he was the recipient of the New Orleans Saints High School Coach of the Year.
Right after Christmas, Cook was informed that he and the other 31 coaches from around the nation will be flown to attend Pro Bowl activities in Orlando, Florida, next weekend.
Furthermore, two of the 32 coaches will be selected by a committee as the two finalists for the Don Shula National Coach of the Year Award.
The prize for those two will be $15,000 and a trip to the Super Bowl. The two finalists will be revealed at the Pro Bowl, which begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27.
“I’m just hoping none of the Saints are at the Pro Bowl,” Cook laughed, referring to the fact that Super Bowl players no longer participate in the Pro Bowl.
“I’m just hoping somehow or another I get chosen as one of the two coaches and the Saints are playing in it,” Cook said. “That would be sweet.”
For the record, Cook said he sweated out the Saints’ entire playoff game with the Eagles, but is now convinced that sub-par performance will spur on better execution Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I really didn’t know anything about this award,” Cook said. “Evidently, every year every pro team selects a Coach of the Year. So there’s 32 guys.
“The guy told me, ‘Coach, you’re really the only one outside the New Orleans area that has gotten this.’ That’s probably why we never knew a whole lot about it.”
All the honored coaches will get to attend such Pro Bowl activities as the team practices, the skills competitions and the celebrity flag football game.
“Getting to go to practice, kind of looking forward to that,” he said.
When there, Cook is hoping to run into a quarterback he once coached.
Back in 2007, Cook was a receivers coach for the Army All-American Game in San Antonio.
Michael Floyd was one of the receivers he directly coached, but the player that made the biggest impression was Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
“He was so gracious,” Cook said. “(Son) Stu has a big picture he took with Andrew in his room. He was just such a fun guy to get to know.”
To Cook’s delight, it was announced Tuesday that Luck was replacing Philip Rivers on the Pro Bowl roster, so that reunion is seemingly in the cards.
“Both teams ate breakfast together, so we got to know a lot of guys,” Cook said. “It was so much fun when I coached in that Army Bowl game. I’m still in contact with three of the guys that was on that staff.”
Cook said he’s never attending a Pro Bowl in his life, but he did attend one Super Bowl many years ago.
After his first semester at then-USL in 1970, Cook and his father attended Super Bowl IV when Kansas City defeated Minnesota 23-7.
“I remember that receiver (Otis) Taylor and Len Dawson quarterbacking the Chiefs,” Cook said.
But Cook’s biggest memory of that Super Bowl trip had nothing to do with football.
“We had great seats,” Cook said. “I mean, we were almost on the 50-yard line. Hubert H. Humphrey, the (former) vice-president who was from Minnesota, was sitting about four rows from us.”
So his father, Lewis Cook Sr., suggested that his son get his autograph.
“I said, “Dad, I’m not going to go bother the man,’” Cook remembered.
But there wasn’t anyone around Humphrey at the time, “so I get my program and walk over there. He was very gracious and signed it.
“Right after I left, people just flooded the poor guy. I said, ‘See what I started, Dad?’ ”
Ironically, Humphrey was from South Dakota, went to college at Minnesota and then got his master’s from LSU.
His next opportunity to attend a Super Bowl ended when former Crowley High player Orlando Thomas and the Vikings were knocked off by Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game after the 1998 season.