This week I was asked by the "Who Dat Nation!" to do my next blog on explaining a typical road trip for the New Orleans Saints.
It's a very creative request, so let's do it!
A typical road trip for us begins on Saturday morning with fresh Krispy Kreme donuts brought to the facility by a rookie. Typically this is a kicker, thus filling the bill right now is Thomas Morstead.
Then we hit meetings for a couple of hours to review Friday's practice and any last minute adjustments. After meetings we go out for a quick walk-through (which is a review of all the weeks installments, without running, hence the term walk-through). Once practice is over we shower up and put on our suits and ties. It's a requirement from Coach Payton that we travel in suits and ties, as a reminder that we never lose sight that the purpose of our travel is for a business trip!
Next we head to the airport and upon boarding the veterans are greeted with some Popeye's chicken supplied to us by ALL of the rookies. We're seated in assigned seating by years played in the league. So, of course, an old man like me is in first class, baby! Right before we take off, we pick the week's movie to watch on the trip. Somehow this has evolved into "the movie Drew (Brees) picks," although he's asleep before the plane even takes off! In essence, we're stuck watching a movie that the sleeping guy wanted to watch.
Once we land, we hop on the buses and head to our hotel with a police escort. When we get to the hotel Saints fans in that city always greet us, which is great.
However, what I would like to know is how in the world fans get the location of our hotel if I just found out where we're staying?
Anyway, must of the players then have a couple hours before our next meeting so we decide on where to go eat dinner. Position groups usually make these decisions. Now on offense, the offensive line, quarterbacks, and tight ends usually eat together. And, once again this decision somehow is made by you know who, Drew a.k.a. "The Best Quarterback in the League."
The best thing about going out together is the end of the meal. We play a little game called "Credit Card Roulette." Have you ever heard of it? The game is played as follows: Everyone that ate dinner takes out one credit card and puts it in one of our hats. Our waiter or waitress now is asked to pull credit cards out of the hat. The last card remaining in the hat pays for the entire meal! Simply put, you love this game when you win, but good luck explaining how fun it is to your wife when you lose! That, putting it lightly, is not so fun.
We head back to the hotel for Chapel and Mass and to be fed spiritually.
After the services are our team meeting and probably the best meeting of the week. It's when Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt breaks down the opponent. He then, in a very emotionally charged ending, explains why this family, The New Orleans Saints, is made for greatness!
Now we break up into offensive and defensive position meetings, where Coach Payton goes over the top 15 plays he would like to run. Following an evening of meetings there is a snack, where a variety of foods are available before bed check at 11:00 p.m. I know I should eat the fruit then, but the cookies and ice cream get me every time. This is a good time to call home and say goodnight to family. Then it's off to bed.
The next morning we wake up early, eat breakfast, then get on the caravan of buses to head to the stadium.
Unlike the rest of the trip, this is a very quiet bus ride where most guys reflect on what they've learned this week and visualize what they'll need to do in a few hours.
Once in the locker room we get dressed and this is the time that you can start to feel the anticipation and excitement of the nearing game in which it's 53 guys and coaches against an entire stadium! Some guys listen to their favorite music on headphones, while others go over their playbook.
As for myself, I'm a guy who can't stop pacing up and down the locker room. Head Strength Coach Dan Dalrymple tells us when it's two-minutes to go. Then we says the Lord's Prayer as a team and hear Coach Payton's last words of encouragement before giving every last drop of energy we can find for the 53 guys around you.
It's game time for the WHO DATS!