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Deuce McAllister Looks Back and Ahead

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                    <span style="">New Orleans Saints RB Deuce McAllister</span>
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                    <span style="">Tuesday, February 17, 2008</span>
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            <span style="">Opening Statement—Deuce McAllister:</span> "I want to start by thanking the New Orleans Saints organization for this opportunity, Mr. (Tom) Benson, Ms. (Rita) Benson LeBlanc, Coach (Sean) Payton, Mickey Loomis, even the guys like Randy Mueller and Jim Haslett for giving me the opportunity to be a New Orleans Saint. They say all good things must come to an end. As a player, this is a day that you dread happening. If you don't go out on your own terms, this is eventually a possibility that may occur. And, to the fans of the New Orleans Saints, it's been a blessing and an honor to be able to play every Sunday, Monday and Thursday, or whatever day it may have been and just to hear my name and my teammates' name to be called and through the good and the bad times that we've obviously had together, obviously from going through a situation like Katrina and then having an opportunity in 2006 to play in the NFC Championship game. To have all those things happen to me and for me, I've been blessed. I just want to tell everyone thank you. A lot of times, I guess it's a little odd for a player to get released to have this sort of deal done (a press conference). There's no animosity between myself and the Saints. I'm thankful. I'm happy that they would allow this to happen and happy that they would allow me to thank everybody for the opportunity that has been given to me."  

Question: When did you start thinking that your current tenure with the Saints could be ending? Was it when you weren't playing as much this season at times?

Deuce McAllister: "That may have been a sign, but I've always felt like I could still play. That's how I feel to this day. It's just a situation where it didn't work out to this point. 3.5, 3.2 (seasons), I think that's the average life of a running back and to play eight, I've exceeded expectations already.""

Question: Do you think you're going to play again?

Deuce McAllister: "Hopefully I can play again."

Question: What's the next step for you?

Deuce McAllister: "The next step is to continue to rehab. I had a 'scope, six weeks on Thursday. (I will) just continue to rehab and get that stronger. It was just basically removing some cartilage that was causing me some problems as far as the knee swelling up earlier this year. Hopefully we will have that rectified. Basically that's the next step in getting it stronger."

Question: Has it set in yet that you are not currently part of the roster for the first time in eight years?

Deuce McAllister: "That won't be the end of it. This will still be home. I still feel like I can still stop by and see the guys and everybody in the office. Probably one of the toughest things is seeing everybody in the office and seeing everyone that makes this team work, the back end people who are not on TV and a lot of people that people on the outside don't know…The secretaries, the people in administration, the scouts. They don't get a lot of recognition. That was tough to see those guys and thank them for the opportunity because they make this thing work."

Question: Were you shocked or surprised that you were released?

Deuce McAllister: "In the day and age that we are in now, you look at the role the salary cap has to play with each team. You have to look at the economy, different things, not here, but in the world in general. Nothing's really going to shock you at this point and this stage (of the game). I've been in the game long enough to see guys come and go. Eventually you see that it may be you one day."

Question: Do you think you'll be playing somewhere next season if you can come around physically to your parameters?

Deuce McAllister: "Yes. That's the goal. I still have that itch to play. I still want to play. I still feel I can contribute and help a team. The most important thing for me right now is to continue to get healthy."

Question: Were there any talks like last year of restructuring your contract?

Deuce McAllister: "I won't necessarily get into the details of what gave or what led to the release of myself, but they were good talks. They were spirited talks about doing different things. At the end of the day, it just didn't happen."

Question: Would you have stayed here in a similar role or did you need the ball more?

Deuce McAllister: "If you're a player, you want it more, that's a quarterback or wide receiver, or even a defensive end. He wants sacks. As an offensive player, you want the ball. At the same time, it has to be in a role where I'm healthy. It has to be a situation where I'm healthy and helping the team. It would be naive of me to say that I'm still that 25, 30 carry a game type of back. It's got to be in the best interests of the team. I guess I have to find a niche that fits for me."

Question: Did you feel that you were helping the team at the end of the season?

Deuce McAllister: "Any opportunity that I had, I felt I was contributing. I felt I was contributing and trying to make plays for this team, that's going to be the biggest issue, whatever happens, how comfortable I am and how I'm helping that team to be better."

Question: How difficult was it looking at the possibility that this day could come?

Deuce McAllister: "That's the toughest part. The New Orleans Saints are the only team I know as far as professionally. You move up from high school to college. You want to stay with one team your whole career. You never know what might happen. I might get to a point where rehab is too tough and then you talk about maybe retiring, so this might be that final time, but until that day comes, as far as I know, I can't do it anymore, I still want to go."

Question: If you don't sign with another team, do you look at having done everything you wanted to accomplish bedsides participating and winning a Super Bowl?

Deuce McAllister: "Outside of a Super Bowl, that's probably the only thing I have left to accomplish. I've been to Pro Bowls. I've had success as far as being a starter, being the quote, unquote bell cow running back. My only goal now is to win a Super Bowl."

Q: Can you discuss the love affair between yourself and the New Orleans sports fans?

Deuce McAllister: "I don't know. I just try to do it the right way. I think the people have respected it, whether it's just going to a basketball game, all the fans yelling my name. You're thankful for it, but at the end of the day I just try to go out there and make plays on Sunday."

Question: What stands out about your career here?

Deuce McAllister: "I think the opportunity to play, getting drafted by the New Orleans Saints. Being close to home, a lot of friends and family could come see me play. Some of the success we had. I think when I was drafted in 2001, you look back and would have said 'the Saints are a team with talent, but they're not a good team.' I don't think you can say that anymore. I think you can say they're a team with talent, and they're a good team."

Question: Based on how you know your body, do you think you have one, two or three seasons left?

Deuce McAllister: "I think the limit for me is three."

Question: Do any specific performances stand out to you?

Deuce McAllister: "The Philly game will always be special, the divisional game. That will always be special for me, but also probably my first touchdown against Atlanta. It was a sweep left, 54, 56 yards, something like that. I think it was Kyle Turley pulling. It was pretty special."

Question: Do you want to say anything to the fans?

Deuce McAllister: "It's definitely a shock. I understand in some ways it might hurt for some fans, but at the same time, I want them to continue to support the New Orleans Saints. They were hopefully a Saints fan before I got here and I want them to continue to be a Saints fan once I'm gone. The players and coaches will change, but it's either in you or it's not. I'm just thankful. I want them to continue to support this organization and hopefully bring a championship to this team."

Question: Is there any animosity between you and the team?

Deuce McAllister: "There is no animosity. I just had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Benson a second ago and I'm happy and thankful Rita came in here today. There's no animosity at all in my part. It just didn't work. At the end of the day, it didn't work, but at the same time, I'm going to remember the good memories that we had."

Question: Do you still anticipate being involved with your foundation here?

Deuce McAllister: "Yes, we're still going to do some things here. We're still going to be a part of the community. I'll still be a part of this community here in New Orleans, not only as far as being a fan and a resident, but as well as someone who does community work and events here, we'll still be a part of it."

Question: Can you see yourself being a part of the organization in a non-playing capacity?

Deuce McAllister: "Yes, I can see myself being a part of this organization in a non-playing role. The coaching side of it, I don't know if that's it. Those coaches put in a lot of time, a lot of long hours. I might end up working out that way, because this will basically be home. Or even if it works out where unfortunately I may have to go with another team, New Orleans will always be home for me."

Question: Did this come down to a difference of opinion on how you'd have to offer next season?

Deuce McAllister: "Pretty much."

Question: You've always been an even-keeled player and not worn your emotions on your sleeve like maybe some other players. Did you have any times, maybe by yourself or with your wife about not possibly being a Saint anymore? Do you think that will hit you?

Deuce McAllister: "I have my shades here and I was hoping that I wouldn't get emotional about it. Probably the toughest part for me, not only saying and telling the guys goodbye and that I'll be in touch with them, but saying I know the work that the equipment guys put in, I know the work that the secretaries put in and what they go through. I'm thankful for them. That's probably the toughest part, telling those individuals goodbye."

Question: Can you comment on your legacy touchdown this year to become the club's all-time leader. Is that something you'll file away?

Deuce McAllister: "I think as I get older, I'll appreciate it a lot more. You're definitely thankful for it now, but as you get older, you'll feel wow, that's something that I actually did."

Question: Can you discuss finding a team where your skill set fits?

Deuce McAlister: "As any player, you have to do your homework, because if you don't, you're kind of cheating yourself or shorting yourself. Looking around as far as teams are concerned you have to try to find that fit. It will be up to myself and my agent's, just to try to find that fit and see if it's going to work with somebody else."

Question: Can you recollect the return to the Superdome and how special that game was for you?

Deuce McAllister: "It ranks highly. I think that game on a team level will be the all-time greatest game for the all-time New Orleans Saints' history, not only because of what it meant to us as players, but because of what it meant to the city. Coach Payton, I'll never forget how he commented on how he's have to try to tone it down as far as monitor our spirits, because getting us hyped up to play would not be a problem."

Question: Besides an opportunity to contribute and a chance of going to the Super Bowl, is there anything else you are looking for in a new team?

Deuce McAllister: "Just the opportunity to contribute and the realistic chance to go to the Bowl. That would play a part into it. As a football player you want to play, you want to be involved and you want to feel like you can contribute, so I think those will be the biggest issues out there."

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