Saints linebacker Scott Shanlehas been one of the Saints premier defensive players since he arrived in New Orleans in 2006. The six-foot-two linebacker has notched 100-plus tackles in three of his four seasons representing the black and gold and has notched more tackles (464) than any other Saints since he arrived in 2006. He started 14 games at weakside linebacker last season with 104 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Shanle sat down with NewOrleansSaints.com to discuss the six years he has worked with Sean Payton,his alma mater's move to the Big Ten and missing the ESPYs:
Q: How well did you know Sean Payton when you were both on the Cowboys?
SS: "We didn't have a real personal connection when I was at Dallas because we were on different sides of the ball but he competed against me every day in practice. (Bill) Parcells didn't have to convince Sean of anything. He had seen everything and knew what I could bring to the table."
Q: What do you believe Payton's biggest strength as a coach is?
SS:"I think there a confidence that Sean brings wherever he goes and it is a confidence that he brings out from everybody on the team. He put together a team of the type of people he wanted – dependable guys, accountable guys, there is a quality about him where week in and week out he gets the best out of everybody. He finds a way to bring the best out of his players. It's hard to get up and ready at the same intensity every week. He has a knack for doing and that showed last year with the 13-0 start."
*Q: You played running back and linebacker in high school, when did you decide to focus on being a linebacker? *
SS: "My senior year of high school I had a lot of schools looking at me on as a linebacker. I played both sides of the ball because I saw the benefit of seeing what the offensive side of the ball looks for. I grew up a huge Nebraska fan so I followed all the Cornhuskers running backs and linebackers."
Q: What was your reaction when you found out your alma mater Nebraska would be leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten?
SS: "I didn't want to see the Big 12 rivalries go away that I was accustomed to seeing and was apart of. I think Nebraska will do well in the Big Ten but I am mixed about it because I didn't want to see the rivalries die."
Q: Who would you say your closest friends on the team are?
SS: "I was really close with Scott Fujita and Mark Simoneau when they were here. I played with Fujita for five years and Mark grew up in a small town in Kansas so we can kind of relate with how we grew up. I am close with all the linebackers just because we spend more time together than we do with our family. We are a very close group."
Q: Did you attend the ESPYs with your teammates?
SS: "I actually didn't. To fly all the way out there just to be on a stage for a few minutes wasn't much of a tradeoff for me but I wish I would have went out there because the next week we were there to shoot a commercial and we had an awesome time."