Carl Nicks speaks with Daniel Sallerson on the Black and Blue Report for Oct. 25.Nicks and former teammate Jonathan Vilma will be inducted Friday, Oct. 27 during a ceremony at Club XLIV. For tickets, click here.
As you prepare to come to New Orleans for the weekend festivities what are some of the emotions going through you right now?
"A lot of shock and disbelief. It's extremely humbling and I'm super excited. I'm trying to compare this to a lot of the things I've done in my life, won the Super Bowl had some personal accomplishments but this one is pretty much up there. I don't know if it takes the cake but it's damn near close."
Absolutely, it's much deserving I should say. You have to give a speech for Friday, are you ready for it? Have you prepared? Are you still working on it? How's that going?
"I am not ready for it. I have not prepared it. But I will. I don't know, I'm still kind of in shock. I didn't play a long time there but I have so many different memories and so many people to be appreciative and thank I don't know how to put it in words but I'll figure it out."
Jonathan Vilma talked a little bit about this weekend being kind of nostalgia, do you feel the same way as far as just looking back at your time here in New Orleans especially with your Super Bowl run?
"How can you not? Just today I was looking at some of the old Super Bowl CD's that were kind of highlights of the season. You can't help but get caught up in that feeling we had, it's like nothing I've ever experienced."
You were drafted in the 5th round by the Saints in 2008, did you ever imagine that after being a 5th round pick in the 2008 draft that you'd ever be inducted into that teams Hall of Fame that you were drafted by?
"No way. I mean there was a time where I didn't even think I was going to get drafted. Sean Payton took a chance on me and I'll never forget what he did for me and the opportunity he gave me but, man, I would never in a million years think that. I was just trying to make the team at that time. I knew I was a lower round draft pick and I had something to prove. Not in a million years."
I went down memory lane with Jonathan Vilma about that 2009 season. I asked him, "At what point did he feel like that team could be Super Bowl bound?" He said it was the preseason game against Houston, yall had some great practices and ended up beating them in a game. When did you feel like this team was something special, that '09 Super Bowl team?
"I knew it was special in training camp. When we used to have red zone period or goal line period it was more intense than a lot of games that we played in. We had Coach Payton talking about, "We're about to score on you," and Vilma talking about, "No, way. We're better conditioned than all them." Everybody is talking and everybody is riled up and you got intense plays at the end of practice, at the end of a three-hour practice in the heat. I couldn't believe what was going on, everyone was so competitive. When Vilma got there and we had Shockey and Drew it was just, I knew we had something special."
A lot has been written about the team, that game, is there maybe an anecdote that you haven't shared previously about what made that group special. I know you sort of mentioned it there about the competition and all the special guys you had around you but is there anything that you haven't shared about this team that made it so special for you?
"No. I mean when I coach some football out here and I try to think about, "Man, what made us so good?" I don't know, to be honest with you. It was a weird combination of everyone was that alpha, super completive, "I'm gonna win at all cost." But we were also really good friends. I knew the line backers like I knew the offensive line, I hung out with the defensive linemen. We would have dinner at each other's houses, we were really like..not a family but..we used to wrestle in the locker room. Receivers and running backs would jump offensive linemen, WWE style. We'd have fun every day and we'd work our butts off."
You talk about coaching now, do you kind of use some of the things you learned from the Saints and use those same things to teach your kids? What are some of the things you've been able to take away from the Saints on and off the field?
"I think the most important things is everything I learned off the field. I expected to be a high round draft pick and it didn't end up being that way because I got myself in some trouble. I think I stress that the most. If you're not doing what you're supposed to do outside the field, whether that's going to class or being a good human being, it's not going to work out. When that happened to me it humbled me. I speak about being humbled all the time. Everybody's going to work hard and everyone's going to be good but you really have to humble yourself and really buy in to what you're doing and give it your all. That means not cheating yourself off the field. I think if I learned anything from Sean it was tough love. He humbled me and I needed that. I was that teenager that thought he was so good and was untouchable and I got a rude reality check. But I needed that. He never did it in a mean way, he always did it in a positive way because he expected me to be great. That made me think, "maybe I am somebody and maybe I can do this." Sean was a great coach, probably the best I've ever had."
Absolutely. We see how this team is doing now after an 0-2 start now 4-2 leading the NFC South division. What does that say about this team and what does that say about Sean Payton and Drew Brees? At 0-2 some teams' kind of break at that point this team has never given up. Now they're looking at possibly a five game winning streak on Sunday.
"Listen, if you got Drew Brees and Sean Payton you're good. Doesn't matter what situation you're in, you could be down 21 points in the fourth quarter, if you got those two guys, especially Drew…he looks the same if not better than when I was there. He's probably going to play another five years, he's amazing. Sean, they got a good chemistry going on and it's hard to be questioned because they prove it Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Jahri used to tell me, "We've got Drew Brees, we're still in this game."
I asked Jonathan this same question before I talked to you about how it was trying to block you. Now I'm going to ask you the same thing, what can you tell us about trying to block Jonathan Vilma?
"When Jonathan came here he already had all our respect from what he did prior but he's very intelligent, he's not going to try to come at you the same way twice. He's going to use his athleticism and be real shifty and I gotta break down to block him. Another time I go to break down and he tries to run my face over. The thing about Jon I liked that prepared me to play other good linebackers was, you got to calm them with an even kill, you can't kill them and you can't break down like they're going to juke you, you have to kind of come in between and once I figured that out, it made games a lot easier. Blocking Jon was hard but a lot of times if I got two hands on him…he's so loose and shifty it's hard to get two hands on him.
SAINTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONIES
The annual Saints Hall of Fame Alumni Celebration and Induction is set for Friday, Oct. 27 from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. at Club XLIV and Encore in Champions Square.
Catered by 23-25 restaurants and caterers, the event includes all you can eat, along with beverages, a silent auction of outstanding sports memorabilia and door prizes.
New Orleans Saints alumni from around the country will attend as part of Saints Hall of Fame weekend.
Additionally, the induction of Super Bowl XLIV heroes Carl Nicks and Jonathan Vilma will take place at 7 p.m. sharp, followed by the Alumni Celebration from 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Longtime New Orleans Saints employee Jay Romig will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis award for his various contributions to the Saints organization and to the Saints Hall of Fame.
Doors will open by 6:30 p.m. If you want to attend the induction or are media seeking to cover the induction, please arrive by no later than 7 p.m. Dress is casual dressy, with no shorts or T-shirts allowed.
The cost to attend is $75 and tickets are available by cash or check by calling (504) 471-2192, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting www.saintshalloffame.com. You can also purchase tickets via credit card at the following link:
Parking is in Garage 1A on the Poydras St. side of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the garage closest to Champions Square. The parking cost is $15. More information on the event can be found here.
Photos of Carl Nicks with the New Orleans Saints (New Orleans Saints Photos)