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Former Saints LB Scott Shanle, TE David Thomas reminisce about Super Bowl XLIV

Posted Feb 4, 2015

Transcripts of Shanle's and Thomas' interview from Tuesday's Black and Blue Report

Former Saints LB Scott Shanle

What was your favorite moment from that Super Bowl?

“Without a doubt, as soon as that clock struck zero to see the excitement on our coaches and teammates faces, everybody running and jumping for joy like little kids and giving each other hugs and embracing. I think that moment, when you put in so much time in the offseason and go through so many games during the regular season and to fight through the NFC championship game like we did to get to the Super Bowl and then to beat a quarterback like Peyton Manning. You just feel a sense of accomplishment like you’ve never felt. I think as soon as that clock stuck zero and you knew, you had accomplished what so many people had set out to accomplish, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Talk about the day of the game. What is going through your mind?

“The toughest part about the Super Bowl, there is no doubt that you get more nervous for it than any other game because it’s do or die time. There is no guarantee you’re ever going to get back to that point. The last thing you want to do is make it to that point and miss out on a chance to win a championship. It is nerve-racking but at the same time, you have so much time during the day. You play a night game and then the pregame festivities are long and the halftime is extra-long so it’s a lot of mental toughness and how can you stay into the game without psyching yourself out. That was one of the things we did well as a team. I thought we had a lot of good leaders. We were mentally tough and the coaches did a great job of preparing us for what was in store as far as having all the time that we were just going to sit there and not play football. I think we were very well prepared.”

Once the game started, did the nerves calm down a little bit?

“I think that for us, you come out of the tunnel and you’re going through pregame and it feels like another game until you look around and there’s all these famous faces on the sideline and there’s cameras going off everywhere. You do step back a few times and say wow we’re in the Super Bowl. After that ball is kicked off and you’re out there and you’re hearing the defensive call or the offensive call, I think you really settle down. You’re back to playing a game. You’re mentally focused on your assignment. I think once you’re involved in the game, it’s another NFL football game. It’s obviously a big football game but you still have to stay even-keeled and not get to hyped up because you still have a job to do.”

You’re down 10-6 at the half. What was Coach Payton’s message to you guys?

“I remember Coach (Payton) being very positive. We were very positive as a team. The way that game started off, it wasn’t looking good for anybody. We felt like we came out of the first half with a little bit of a victory even though we were down. We got down really early in the game and things weren’t looking good. We were on our heels a little bit defensively. You never want to be on your heels against a Peyton Manning led offense. Toward the end of that first half, we really felt the moment start to change. We made a nice stop on defense and kept the Colts from getting any more points. Our offense was starting to come along. We really felt good about where we were heading into halftime.”

After halftime you had the onside kick. Was that the big game-changer for you guys mentally?

“Yeah, I think so. It was one of those situations where people talked about the possibility of us doing that throughout the week at practice. If the moment came up, Coach Payton was going to make that call and we were all on board. Everybody believed that to beat a Peyton Manning-led team you have to find a way to steal a couple of possessions, whether it’s getting fumbles or interceptions. If that doesn’t happen, you have to generate something. Special teams was doing an onside kick. I just feel like it was the perfect time. It was a great call and usually people say it’s a great call because it worked. I truly believe that even if it didn’t work, I think the way the game had kind of flipped momentum going into halftime, I still feel like we would have found a way to win that game. It was obviously a big catalyst to building on that momentum that we had seized going into halftime.”

After being crowed Super Bowl champions, what was that night like? Did you get any sleep? What was the next 24 hours like?

“I remember not getting any sleep. I purposely wanted it that way. We had a team celebration back at the hotel and my family was in town. I just remember thinking that I wanted to stay up all night. I didn’t want that night to end. I know as soon as I went to sleep and woke up, we were going to be on to the next season and that night was going to be over. I remember after the game just sitting in my uniform for the longest time and not wanting that night to end because you know eventually you’re going to be on to the next season and worried about doing it again. I just wanted that night to last as long as possible. It was a great night. To have a team party back at the hotel and celebrate that night with teammates and family, it was a special deal.”

Then you have the parade. What was that moment like?

“The parade was shocking to me. I really had no expectations to what was going to occur. I know before we won the Super Bowl, you see these other teams drive down a couple of blocks of a street and they might get up on some steps of a building and give a speech so I didn’t know what was going to go on. When we jumped on a float and it was packed with beads and we were on there for five or six hours, to see the amount of people there and the turnout for this parade was unbelievable. I always tell people that that Super Bowl celebration and that parade is the measuring stick for how a parade should be. I don’t know if there will ever be a parade that quite matches what we experienced that night.”

Former Saints TE David Thomas

“It’s hard to believe. These five years have gone by fast. Every week, every year when the Super Bowl comes up there’s a lot of good memories that come along.”

Do you ever get tired of talking about it?

“No, it’s one of those things that I think because there was so much hard work that goes into being a part of a team like that, it’s always fun to talk about. It’s always fun to reminisce about what happened that season. All the guys on that team and the coaches, we put a lot of work together. That was a special group of men to come together a put together a season like that.”

Bonded for life? Is that fair to say?

“Absolutely. Joe Vitt always says that when you when a Super Bowl, you walk together forever. I think that is very fitting of that team and how tight-knit we were and just how unified we were.”

When you look back now, what was it like to be trade right before the start of the regular season? Did you have any idea or were you thinking I’m going to a Super Bowl team?

“Honestly, I didn’t know a whole lot about the situation I was going into. I knew who Drew (Brees) was and his reputation obviously stood out. I knew the Saints had a good offense. But the city of New Orleans? I had never been there. I didn’t know anything about the city of New Orleans outside of the stereotypical Mardi Gras an Bourbon Street. Once I got down there and got my family moved down there, we really just fell in love with the city and the people there. It was incredible to be so welcomed by my teammates and also the city. To be able to spend four years there, those were four of the best years of our life.”

Did you guys ever feel like during the season that you were going to the Super Bowl?

“When we started 13-0 that was obviously a pretty big indicator but I think the calm we felt at the end of the season, even though we started 13-0 and finished on a three game losing streak, the calm and the lack of panic at that point… I think a lot of coaches and a lot of teams would have hit the panic button and started questioning everything we had done and worrying about if we had peaked too early. Sean (Payton) really was steady. His leadership really just guided us down the path and got us rolling against Arizona, Minnesota and on to the Super Bowl.”

It really seemed like even with the three game losing streak that you guys went into it like veteran guys. Even though a majority of the team had never been there before.

“There was a lot of guys on the team that had been on a Super Bowl caliber team. I know Sean had been to the Super Bowl in his time with the Giants. There was a group of people that really kind of understood what it took and they were just very calm and steady about we have to remain the course. We know who we are. We’re going to stick with our identity. We’re going to stick with what’s brought us this far. We kind of went through a rough patch there at the end of the year but the proof was in the pudding at that point. A season of 13-3, regardless of how you finish, you obviously did a lot of things right leading up to that so just reminding ourselves to trust our plan and trust our process that had brought us that far was really the plan going in and it worked.”

What do you remember more vividly, the week leading up to the Super Bowl or the game itself?

“I think I remember the game itself more than anything and just the whole day. The whole day of going through the whole process of meetings in the morning and then going to the stadium and after the game, playing on the field with my kids and the party afterward. The whole week was just kind of a blur because you go from meetings to media to practice to back to the hotel and more meetings. You’re kind of just all over the place. Once you finally get to gameday, you’re in a familiar routine. You’re in a familiar process. Once you get to gameday, the hay is in the barn and you know you’ve done everything you can to be ready and you just go out there and play.”

You make it seem to be normal on gameday.

“That’s the idea anyway. I’ll never forget. When you play in a night game, you kind of have the whole afternoon where you’re just sitting around in the hotel. I’ll never forget, I was flipping the channels and I ended up watching a marathon of Jersey Shore. I’d never watched it before and I always thought ‘what a stupid show’ but then I caught myself flipping through channels and I’d always end up there watching that stupid reality show. But that’s what I watched getting ready for the Super Bowl. I guess it worked out OK.”

As you’re getting close to game time, were the gameday jitters ramped up for you?

“I was never that type of player. My emotions were never really high or really low. Going into the game, my emotions were always very steady. The pregame and all that, I had my routine and I knew at what point I would go out and do my warm up. I just tried to really trust my routine and trust my process. I played in a BCS. I played in the Super Bowl with the Patriots. So I had a little experience with those type of games. When you’re on the field and you see Queen Latifah and Carrie Underwood singing the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and all the songs pregame it definitely kind of hits that this is different than a normal football game.”

How vividly do you remember your catch?

“That’s probably the play that sticks out the most, outside of the last play where we took a knee and we were the World Champions. I just remember being on the left side of the formation and rolling the stick route and getting down inside the five and at the time thinking ‘I wish I would have scored there.” But the next play Shock (Jeremy Shockey) got the quick slant and we got the touchdown there. That was a big series.”

After you finally got your hands on the ball did the game change a little bit?

“No, at that point it was the second half and we were into the rhythm of the game. At that point, the tide was starting to roll in our favor and it was the third quarter at that point. We were back into the rhythm of the game and flow of everything.”

Let’s talk about Ambush. Was there a moment where Sean Payton walked in and said this is what we’re going to do?

“Yeah, that was one of the first things we talked about when we all got together as a team was look, we’re going to kick off to start the second half and we’re going to run Ambush so offense be ready. We’re going to go out there and score. I think with how calm Sean (Payton) was, you think about him calling an onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl, the biggest game of your career. But just the confidence and calm that he showed in that situation where he could have been anything but just really gave us confidence and allowed us to trust and know that he had confidence and faith in us and all we had to go was go out and execute.”

There had to be some shock value with that announcement.

“You know a little bit just because he had been saying for weeks, ‘We’re going to run it. We’re going to run it’ and the opportunity just never presented itself. He said that week leading up, ‘we’re going to run Ambush during the game so just be ready because we’re going to call it’ and I think when it got to that point it was like we’re not going to run it. He’s not going to call it at the Super Bowl but then he said it and he was serious. We better be ready.”

How often do you wear your Super Bowl ring?

“Not too often. It will come out for special occasions. If I’m going to some kind of event where I know people will want to see it or speaking engagements. I probably show it to kids more than anybody. Any time I go speak to a group of kids that’s one of the questions that they have. I always try to take it with me and pass it around. It’s something that I don’t wear often but every time I do, it definitely brings back memories and highlights so many cool things that was able to be a part of there in New Orleans.”

One of the cool things that the guys have been talking about is the parade when they came back.

“Oh yeah. That was our first year in New Orleans so I had never been to Mardi Gras or in a parade or to a parade or anything Mardi Gras related in New Orleans. That parade kind of set my bar pretty high for Mardi Gras parades. Just the outpouring of support from fans. I think everybody understands how closely knit the New Orleans Saints and the city of New Orleans are but the number of people that showed up. Even the weeks and months and years following, just how many stories I have heard from people about what that Super Bowl meant to fans as someone that is from Louisiana or New Orleans. There’s so many incredible stories. There’s so much appreciation and support from those people. I think at the time we all kind of thought, especially me not having lived in New Orleans for very long, I think at the time I thought this was a football game and the fans are just really excited but it really meant a lot to them. It really signified a lot more than just a football game for those fans.”