The one thing about the end of the season is this, I'm around you guys so much and sometimes it's a great time; sometimes we talk about a lot of things not football related. Then the season ends and guys have to go see families and get rest and then I don't see you all for a couple of weeks. So I get a little a sad when I walk around the building.
Well it's almost like the last day of school. We come in there and we're going, going, going 100 miles per hour since July, I mean really you go back further than that, since OTA's started. Then all of a sudden you have the last meeting and everybody just goes and that's it. The final meeting, it's bye and everybody's pulling out of the parking lot and you kind of have that weird feeling like the next day 'are we supposed to be doing something,' but you're actually done. For all of us, it's that strange time and at the time same time, it's kind of how our business works.
Let me start with the award. Congratulations by the way. How did the news hit you that you're one of the three finalists?
I think it's kind of like the news that I was nominated by the Saints in the first place. Just a very humbling experience and humbling news just to know that I'm in the final three. Exciting at the same time. It's really quite an honor to represent this organization and this community, as well as the league as a whole. I'm excited to go and find out who won. I told my wife and my kids are all excited, jumping up and down, so now it's just about going there and we have some things to do as far as appearances and interviews and stuff like that. I'm really looking forward to going. I think this is really a great thing that the league does honoring guys. I mean there's so many guys that could be honored for doing things in the community, but it's a privilege to be named amongst them.
I think I want to bring that up, because I don't know if everybody's familiar with what this long running award is all about. Basically the award is given to those that are exemplary in character, who show great passion for being involved in their community and making a difference and for excellence on the field. It seems to be the all-in-one award for the NFL. What it is like Benjamin, when people talk about you like that?
It's really weird, I don't know what to say. I kind of nod and say thank you a lot because I understand that it's not really me. Those values have been instilled in me by my parents. They are continuing to be brought out in me by my wife challenging me to do different things, joining beside me when we do different things in the community or at home or whatever it is. It's kind of about more than me as an individual so while it's quite an honor to be spoken of in that way, I really look at my parents and I look at my upbringing, I look at my faith and I look at the fact that the only reason really why I go out and try to do things for other people to make their lives better is because of what God has done for me.
If you win this thing, where will you display this award and how will you celebrate with that family of yours?
I haven't even gotten that far. The great thing is that it's all the way in San Francisco so my wife will definitely be there at the NFL honors at the program. If I did win, I would love for my kids to be there but I don't know if that would be a possibility with them being so far away. I think we will bring it home, we'll find a nice place for it and I'll bring it by for you guys to see it for a little bit if you guys want to touch it.
Will you know before the NFL Honors banquet or is that surprise that night?
I don't know to be honest with you. I'm just finding this out and so I know some people who have won on the day that won it last year. I'm sure I will be calling him and figuring it out if you know or you don't know just so we can kind of plan. That's something that I don't even know yet.
A Big reason of your candidacy is the book that you released last fall "Under Our Skin." What a compelling read and I would say a must read for most anybody in this current climate and time in our country. What has been the reaction to you as an author of this kind of work since the release of the book?
The reaction has been very warm. I continue to get emails, posts to my Facebook page, and letters in the mail. Just recently I ran into a lady who was from St. Louis and going all the way back to the post I wrote about Ferguson, she very emotionally just how much she appreciated those words and then also the book following that. I've had really good response for people of all walks, people of all races and colors and creeds. It's really been a tremendous experience just hearing people's stories too. So many people have sent me stories of their experience with race whether they're black or white, things that challenge them in the book, maybe places that made them uncomfortable in the book and things that they want to talk to me about that they may not agree about but they're open to hearing someone else's perspective. The book has been going very well and I am really happy that the opportunity opened up to write it. I think that it's come out at a time such as this. We live in a climate like you mentioned where race is always at the forefront, where there is always something on the T.V. and I really think that creating dialogue, whether you agree with me 100% or not, the fact that you're willing to read the book, maybe think about where you fall along the lines, maybe challenge me or challenge someone else or see things that you can do different. I think that is the primary step when it comes to healing.
Has there been one particular statement or passage that you put into print that elicited perhaps the most reaction?
I think there a couple different ones. People really have enjoyed the story about my Pop-Pop who lived in Washington D.C., he passed away last year and I intermingle a lot of personal antidotes as well as stories about my family just to illustrate certain things in the book and I talk about huis upbringing and how the things that were seeing today, many of them remind me of some of the things that he's told me about his upbringing. I think that immediately draws a reader in, they can envision him living in Washington D.C., they can see me going to visit his apartment and looking out on the balcony at the Washington Monument and seeing the Kennedy Center and they can kind of feel my experience, the way I looked up to him, the way our relationship was. Also there are parts of the book where I'm talking about being introspective and the challenge there is whether we are black or white we all have the root cause of this racism which is sin and we all have certain assumptions and biases that we all need to deal with. Whether they are overt or covert or whatever. I would say just some of those stories that I've told but also just getting the reader to understand that you know what there's more than simply finger pointing, that's part of it, acknowledging the reality of what's going on in certain areas of our country but it's also pointing the finger in the mirror and pointing the finger back at yourself.
7-9 is not necessarily is not the mark that you and your teammates were hoping for. I think that's not only been stated by you guys but from your coaches and management too. In some sense I get this feeling, especially with the way the season ended, that this 7-9 this year felt different than the year before and that the off season actually has a little momentum to it. Would you agree with that with regard to the New Orleans Saints?
I would say that anytime you end the year with a win. That's why it was so important for us to go to Atlanta to win that game on the road in the division that was very important because we have a lot of young players on this team who need to know what it feels like to win. Winning is not something that happens by accident, it is something is a learned practice, it is something that you have to be hungry for and something you can get used to once you done it and once you've experienced it with this group of guys. Going to the season, obviously 7-9 wasn't our vision, I didn't think we would be there. I felt like in the off season we had gotten much better as team, our locker room was a lot better, it felt different, as you mentioned, this year than last year but it didn't manifest itself into more wins. That's what happens sometimes, sometimes you make those decisions in the offseason, you get a better locker room, a more cohesive locker room and it doesn't manifest itself in wins at that point. Maybe next year or maybe the next year is the year it kind of turns. So you dedicate yourself to the practice, you dedicate yourself to getting the right guys and that gives you the best chance at winning. Going into next year, I'm excited for the team. I think that there are a lot of young players that are hungry that are good football players, not just good people, and I think that the future is very bright. That being said it all comes down to execution on Sunday. It doesn't matter what we do on OTA's or in practice we have to come out there every Sunday and execute game plans, we have to win games. Honestly, if you don't win games nobody's going to be around very long.
For whatever reason and I think it's about who you are as people and because of the way you go about your job, you and your friend Drew Brees just turned in great seasons, both of you in your mid 30's. Are you guys drinking from the same water bottle? Are you guys roommates on the road? How did you two pull it off? It was a lot of fun to watch.
Drew finally shared his water. Whatever Drew's drinking, I mean Drew is the one with the gold jacket, so I just need a little bit of the water. I think that, I don't know what to attribute to it other than different opportunities this year, at least on my end. Coming here the last couple years I've been used primarily in the run game and a little bit sparingly in the pass game. This year it was a little bit different. It doesn't really mean that there's some great change, it was just means that I was asked to do something different and I had different opportunities and I took advantage of them. Drew has been Drew for a long time. Before I got here, before I even got in the league. I always joke about him being the oldest guy on the team but he's been playing at very elite level for a very long time and I don't see that changing any time soon.
You truly are a free agent this off season, and Benjamin quite frankly I myself and probably some other Saints fan are worried we won't be able to have Benjamin Watson back as tight end. Is there anything that you can share about that process that you're about to go through?
I love to share everything, all the news and I can tell you that there is no news. Like you said, I'll be a free agent in March. I had a good meeting with Mickey and Sean and we talked about the season, like they do with everybody, and they'll make their decisions as far as personnel whenever that time comes. I'm at a position where I'm healthy, thank God, I didn't have any surgeries, I still enjoy playing football and I will take the opportunities as they come. I'm kind of in a different place than I was the last couple of times I was in free agency whereas now I'm a little more relaxed about it. I am waiting to see what doors open and what doors close. I'm enjoying playing football. I think this is a great gift I've been given to play and I enjoyed playing this season, I enjoyed the city of New Orleans. If it's New Orleans we would love to be here, we're already settled, I've got five kids. I don't feel like moving everybody everywhere. This is a great place for us and I enjoy playing here and it's awesome.
You're a father of five and a dedicated husband. This may be a mute question, but there is anything in this offseason BW that you'd like to do that's on the list that you're going to try and take care of this off season, whether it be a trip or a personal goal or anything else?
That's a good question. One thing I would like to do, I started about a year ago taking piano lessons, two years ago, and I got away from it for the whole year so I want to get back into that primarily. I'm the oldest of six myself, so I have five other siblings I need to go see, one of which is going to be in a play pretty soon, so I've got some places we need to go as a family, some trips we need to make. Other than that, we're trying to get our youngest daughter to sleep through the night every night and just not once every once in a while. So that's kind of the top three things on my list.