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Special Delivery

    <span style="">Fans of the New Orleans Saints will long remember Michael Lewis for his dynamic and field position changing kickoff and punt returns.</span>  

For two Saints fans, though, Lewis will best be remembered for a special delivery.

On Tuesday afternoon on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Lewis, now an Ambassador for the Saints, proudly delivered a Hawaiian lei, two-round trip Delta Airlines tickets, hotel reservations and game tickets to the 2009 Pro Bowl in Hawaii to Saints season-ticket holders Michael Dunn and his wife, Cathy. 

For the 43-year old Dunn, a transportation specialist with the United States Postal Service, it marked a serious deviation in luck for the life-long Saints fan. Dunn and his wife greeted Lewis and Saints Vice President of Ticket and Suite Sales Michael Stanfield when they arrived at their home to hand deliver the news and proclaimed, "this is the first thing in my life that I have ever won something. Maybe it's time to buy a lottery ticket!"

Dunn said that his wife had filled out a form that she picked up at a Saints game and filled out the form making them eligible for the extravagant travel and game package because he was too wrapped up in watching the Saints game. "I saw all of the other people around us filling out the forms and said, "Why Not? It's worth a try,'" Cathy Dunn said.

The Dunn's entry was randomly selected by the Saints' ticket staff out of over 50,000 entries submitted and, in the process, paved the way to Honolulu in February to watch Drew Brees represent the Saints in the annual all-star game. The special promotion that was passed out at Saints' home games this season simply asked fans to fill out a form with their name, address, email address and phone number, as well as to list their favorite Saints player. In return for their efforts the Dunn's will enjoy what Cathy is billing as, "our second honeymoon."

"Wow is all I can really say," Michael Dunn said as Lewis placed the colorful lei around his neck. "The funny thing is at the last game I pointed out Michel "Beer Man" Lewis to my wife because he was in the stands meeting people and shaking hands and I was excited to see him in person. Never did I think in little over a week he would be in my house and sending us to Hawaii."

Dunn, wearing a Reggie Bush authentic jersey for the occasion, said that the trip to Hawaii would serve as a bit of a walk down memory lane for him, as he was stationed in Hawaii as a member of the United States Navy earlier in his career. "That was work when I was there before," Dunn said. "This time we will be going as tourists and trying to take in all the tourists things to see and do."

The Dunn's have been season ticket holders for four years and recently renewed their season tickets for the upcoming season and said that their devotion to the team never wavers.

"We are there through thick and thin," Michael Dunn said. "To be able to represent the Saints is really special to me. I have been a fan of the Saints for over 30 years and proudly call myself one of the team's biggest fans."

The Dunn's home was adorned with Saints memorabilia including a Saints mailbox, a large blanket with the team's helmet neatly folded over the back of a couch, as well as a Reggie Bush figurine, and a unique wooden wishing well with a Saints logo etched into the wood and the name of their four-year old son, Cameron.

"Cameron is a season-ticket holder, too," Michael said. "He's learning at an early age how to be a fan of the Saints and we don't miss a game. We head out of here at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday and get to the Superdome and take in the entertainment outside and then we head inside to watch the team's warm-up. We don't want to miss a thing."

Lewis, who appeared in the 2003 Pro Bowl as a member of the Saints, was pleased with the opportunity to award the trip to a loyal season-ticket holder. "The Pro Bowl represents the best of the best, and you can tell from talking to the Dunn's that they truly appreciate what they have won. They were smiling from ear-to-ear."

"When we found out that we won we called just about everybody we know," Michael Dunn said. "And to meet Michael Lewis and have him deliver this just makes it extra special. I'm thrilled he's back with the team. He was always one of my favorite players."

The trip to the Dunn's subdivision in Baton Rouge with Lewis allowed him to opportunity to recall to his days as a delivery person and he offered short-cuts tips and ways around traffic-congested areas.

"I was working for Economical Janitorial Supply and this was part of my territory," Lewis said. "I know this area really well."

Lewis said that when he was delivering janitorial supplies he never dreamed that one day he would be driving the streets with two tickets to paradise.

Indeed, today was all about special deliveries.

Notes: Football fans across America continued to tune their televisions to NFL games in large numbers in 2008. According to Nielsen Media Research, 225 million Americans watched NFL regular-season games in 2008. That's nearly 100 million more than the record number of Americans who voted in the 2008 presidential election (131.2 million).

In addition, a record 13 of the 15 most-watched TV shows among all programming this fall are NFL games – up from 11 of the top 15 shows in fall 2007. Five years ago, in 2003, NFL games accounted for one of the top 15 fall programs. Also this fall, NFL games were the week's most-watched TV program in 15 of the NFL's 17 regular-season weeks.

NFL games were the highest-rated programs locally a record 88 percent of the time – topping the mark set last season (86 percent). By comparison, NFL games topped local NFL market ratings 73 percent of the time five years ago (in 2003) and 55 percent of the time in 2001.

NFL viewership on broadcast television continued to out-draw network primetime viewership. NFL games on CBS, FOX and NBC averaged 16.6 million viewers – 89 percent higher than the average primetime viewership among the four major over-the-air networks (8.8 million average on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC). That advantage is roughly even with last year and up from a 56 percent edge five years ago.

More 2008 NFL TV highlights:

For the entire TV season, NFL games rank at the top of weekly programs in average viewership with the top two, and three of the top seven programs on network television. In addition, NFL games and NFL pregame and postgame shows account for the top 10 programs among men 18-49.

2008 NFL national games on NBC, CBS (Sunday national & Thanksgiving) and FOX (Sunday national & Thanksgiving) averaged a 10.1 rating which exceeds playoff broadcast averages for other sports: 2008 NBA Playoffs (3.7 rating) & NBA Finals (9.3 rating) on ABC; 2008 MLB NLCS (4.8 rating) & 2008 World Series (8.4 rating) on FOX.

ESPN's Monday Night Football was the most-watched series on cable with an average of 12.0 million viewers. Monday Night Football accounted for 14 of the 15 most-watched cable programs this fall.

ESPN's Eagles-Cowboys telecast on Sept. 15 is the most-watched show in cable history with 18.6 million viewers

NFL Network's eight Thursday and Saturday Night Football games ranked as the top-rated show of the day among all programs on ad-supported cable networks. All 24 of NFL Network's games dating to 2006 have earned cable's top rating for the night.

NFL Network posted the week's highest average primetime cable rating (2.31) among all cable networks for the week of Dec. 15-21. NFL Network's Ravens-Cowboys telecast on Dec. 20 earned the fourth-highest cable rating (9.22) of any sporting event in 2008.

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