Sorry for the few weeks off I took, fans. Needed to sit back and collect my thoughts, and boy do I have a few!
During the 2008 season there was quite a bit of talk about what was said by our quarterback, Drew Brees, and all that goes on in the Saint's much publicized "breakdown" before a game. It's one of those things that very few people are a part of actually being in, but something that obviously is very visual and intriguing to our fans and general football fans.
The last couple of weeks I've been reflecting on what was said a year ago and what the team says (chants) now before a game. Yes most of it is a lot of "Ra-Ra hype" to get our guys ready to play the game, but one statement that we made still stands true. Our saying "We Are New Orleans!" was chanted by the team only on away games. This statement, I feel, has never been more true than right now. In 2009, of course, we all know the New Orleans Saints are 11-0. This is not just a combination of guys on this year's team, but it also talks about the hard work that started four years ago, right after our team returned from being relocated to San Antonio by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
So when we say "We Are New Orleans!," we mean all of us.
The Saints and their fans--like one big family.
From this statement I have drawn some parallels from this city's struggle and fight to the Saints' struggle and fight. Our team is made up of many personalities and varied backgrounds that blend together to make one hell of a football team. Just like this city is blended with many colors, creeds, and backgrounds that make it one of the greatest cities on the planet!
I'm so proud to be on this team that has so many players that were pretty much passed or not wanted. In a lot of ways, like New Orleans was during Katrina, overlooked and disregarded!
Players that automatically come to mind for me, and I know I am excluding some, but that's the risk I take:
- RB Pierre Thomas, who was an undrafted rookie free agent, and is now the leading rusher on our team.
- QR Marques Colston, who no one had even heard about coming out of college, to being the #1 receiver on our team.
- CB Courtney Roby/Mike McKenzie.aspx">Mike McKenzie, aka "Money Mike," who just two weeks ago was tailgating at the Saints games and then had a key interception against the Pats and was all over the field.
- WR Robert Meachem, who many felt was a bust after being injured early in his rookie season, who has gone on of the most exciting deep threats in this league and has scored a touchdown in four straight games.
- CB Randall Gay, who also was undrafted, has won a Super Bowl ring, and is helping all of his teammates stay even-keeled and level-headed through a pretty exciting time.
- SS Roman Harper, who missed a large portion of entire rookie season due to injury, but has battled back and now lead the team in tackles. In my opinion, he is one of the most, if not the most, underrated strong safeties in this league.
- C Jonathan Goodwin, a free agent from the Jets a few years ago, who nobody even took a second notice of when he signed with us as a free agent. Now he is responsible for calling all of the signals and battles some of the biggest and toughest defensive tackles on a weekly basis.
- Guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, both mid-round draft choices that anchor and lead the way to a running game that is powerful, yet athletic enough to be really tough in pass protection.
- Left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who has stepped in and ably filled the shoes when Pro Bowl left tackle Jammal Brown went down with a season-ending injury.
- RT Jon Stinchcomb, who a lot of people (you know who you are) wrote off as being a bust. He's certainly deserving of a Pro Bowl nod in a lot of people's opinion.
- Our starting linebackers, Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle, who are bringing the wood-week in and week out.
- Tight end David Thomas. He is playing a lot of roles and making plays and has been one heck of a find.
- DT Anthony Hargrove, who I don't have enough space to write this guy's testimony for you, but he's the most inspirational player on this team and it parallels this city. Which reminds me, I need to get him on The Sean Payton Show with me.
Just look at our 3 captains, Drew Brees, Jonathan Vilma, Troy Evans. They lead by words, example and are there every day. Winning and being professionals is what they preach and exhibit on a daily basis. We follow their leads.
Drew Brees was the starting QB for a playoff team, who then turned around and drafted a first round QB because they didn't feel he was a long-term answer? Once he hurt his shoulder, there was only two teams that wanted him, the New Orleans Saints and who cares who else?!
But our GM, Mickey Loomis and Head Coach Sean Payton, took a chance on the guy with a bad shoulder to be the face of this franchise! Pretty good move, I would say.
And thank you 30 other teams who passed on him, because he's the best QB in the league and he plays for and with us. He is our leader.
Troy Evans who had been the special teams captain in Houston, but was free to walk out the door for some reason? So now he's our Special Teams Captain of the 11-0 New Orleans Saints and proves he still has it (although we knew from the moment he walked in here he never had lost it).
There are so many of these stories on this team.
But, last but not least, myself. When the Saints called me, I had just been cut from the Cleveland Browns. Maybe you didn't hear me. I got cut from the Browns?
So I was just going to retire from football. But this city and this football team embraced me and made me feel at home. They game me an opportunity to play this game that I love so dearly. I was able to really prove I still had it. Even now as I sit on IR icing my knee and my Achilles, this city continues to treat me as one of their own! I'll never forget that and I love you for it. Many cities and fans have an attitude of 'what have you done for me lately?' But in this city, once you're a Saint, you're always a Saint.
From the bottom of my heart---Thank you.
I guess what I'm trying to say overall here is that I've seen this city go through one of the toughest times in our country's history. We were overlooked and many wrote us off.
But guess what? We've come back stronger. So if you're looking for an answer as to why we are playing so well, just look at the people in this city. All who have come together, no matter what background, to help each other to rebuild something so great as New Orleans! So no more paper bags over your faces. After those disasters, we have bonded together and been faithful to create the a pretty unique team, because "We Are New Orleans!"
Also, thank you for being so loud in the Dome Monday night! We need you more than you know right now, so please be as loud as you can the rest of this season for us!