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D.J. Swearinger: 'As soon as I got to New Orleans last year, I felt the culture.'

Swearinger finished the 2019 season with the Saints

New Orleans Saints Safety D.J. Swearinger
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, March 23, 2020

What made New Orleans a good place to come back for the 2020 season?
"As soon as I got to New Orleans last year, I felt the culture, I felt the camaraderie, I felt everybody was on one page and one accord. I remember telling Jared Cook (fellow South Carolina alumni) my first day I got to the facility, I was like 'Man, you guys are living (in) luxury.' He was just like 'no, we're not living luxury.' and I said 'no, you are living luxury. The luxury is in the winning.' That's what helps everything go well in the NFL, when you're winning and your guys are high-fiving each other and laughing with each other and the culture is good. It only leaves room for success and I fell in love with that aspect."

You've been quite a few places throughout your career, that was pretty evident in a span of the month when you were here?
"Yeah, it was very evident. I have been place to place, especially last year being on three teams. Years before that, before I was in Washington for a little while, I bounced around as well. I have seen the ups, downs. I have seen seven or eight different head coaches. I have seen seven, eight different locker rooms, eight to 16 different leaders. So I've seen the difference from how it looks to the winning side and of course I've been on a bunch of losing teams as well. So just the culture is a winning deal and I wanted to be a part of that."

Late last season, P.J. Williams I remember that he was playing safety, a position that he hadn't played in a really long time, and he said that you were one of the people that he went to. What does that say to you that even though you were only a part of the team for a short time that you were being looked at as a leader almost immediately?
"It's sort of part of my reputation. I've always been a guy sort of just leads by example. Just the way I carry myself, the way I do things on the field. I've played against the Saints in the past and P.J. (Williams) came to me for some advice because he's seen me making plays in the past. I just felt like it was something common that happens sometimes when we have a veteran guy and a guy that doesn't really understand a position that the young guys want to gravitate to the older guy. I tried to give him corners that helped me in the past that helped me in my early stages of playing safety and I think he made some good plays out there doing that."

When you kind of think about you fitting into this Saints roster, how do you kind of envision your role or what you hope your roll to be next season?
"Well, this upcoming year, man, I'm looking forward to just being the best D.J. Swearinger I can be. With that being said, I've been working extremely hard this offseason to basically just get back to playing the D.J. Swearinger football that I'm capable of that, that people are used to seeing. Last year, it was sort of a learning year. I didn't produce as well as I should have in and was capable of. So this year I'm just looking forward to getting back to D.J. Swearinger football. Whatever my role is, that will be magnified when I get to OTA's or when we get back to playing and getting with the team, I'll know my role more then. I'm looking forward to whatever roll that is whether it's being the starter, whether that's being the backup, whether that's playing special teams, whatever it is I'm all for it, but of course I will be competing for the starting job regardless of what they say on the depth chart. Just as a competitor, you have got to come into every season penciling yourself in as a starter and you don't you shouldn't be in this lineup. I'm all for whatever the Saints want me to be, but I'll definitely be coming back with the best D.J. Swearinger."

How would you define D.J. Swearinger football?
"D.J. Swearinger football is…I'm a fierce competitor, very passionate competitor, a very smart competitor. I'm going to diagnose a lot of film on a team before I go out. A lot of people, they know me as a big hitter or a guy that delivers the strike, but I see myself as one of the smartest players in this league, especially on the backend with the amount of film study I put into the game. The amount of time I put in the film room and off the field, I feel like those are one of my strengths. Just the leadership ability, my ability to get guys to level up to a certain amount of energy. Energy brings a lot out of a football team. A football game period, the game is full of momentum and I feel like my game is very contagious in the sense of energy. Football wise, ability wise, I feel like I'm a ballhawk, I love to get the ball. That's one of my biggest thing is trying to find the ball and get a turnover and I feel like those attributes will help this team a lot."

How have you been able to stay in shape with facilities being closed, some gyms being closed? How creative have you had to be in staying in shape while?
"I just got my bike fixed. I have got my ladder in my backyard that I have been doing some work with over the quarantine days. As far as cardio's concerned, I've definitely been running. I've definitely been on the ladder doing defensive back drills in my backyard and around the neighborhood, but you've got to be creative, but it's cool, we're still getting the work."

With the rest of the division kind of loading up on the offensive side of the ball with Tom Brady, Todd Gurley, how exciting is that from a competitor standpoint that face those guys for division title?
"It's extremely exciting. When I heard the rumors about Tom Brady leaving (New England Patriots) from the beginning, I think I penciled the Buccaneers as one of the teams that he' go to just thinking, because I played for Bruce Arians. Bruce Arians is one of the guys that I'd think that Tom Brady would have respect for. Just playing against Bruce Arians and knowing what he expects out of his players, I felt the Buccaneers were one of the places Tom was going to go and when he actually did, it just lit a fire underneath me to go ahead and get this Saints deal done. Because as a competitor, you grew up as a kid watching guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees. As for me, why wouldn't I want to play with a guy like a guy like Drew and against a guy like Tom Brady? These guys have done so much in this league and to compete against Tom Brady as one of the best quarterbacks ever do it and to have a chance to pick him off twice a year would be great (laughter)."

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