<span>QUOTES FROM NEW ORLEANS SAINTS PRESS CONFERENCE
QB DREW BREES
(On RB Reggie Bush) "I don't think there's a player in the history of the NFL that came in with the expectations that Reggie Bush did. When you take what he did in college – a Heisman winner and all those things. For any young player, especially at the running back position, there's a learning curve, just like there is at the quarterback position or any other position coming into this league. I think that so many eyes were on him and there was so much hype surrounding him, that's a tough position to be in despite your athletic ability and all those things. There's that time period that it takes just to learn how to play the running back position at the NFL level, learn how to be a professional, learn how to prepare, learn how to take care of your body. Just learn all those things. And really football has now become a full-time job, whereas before I played football because I loved it in high school and college but really I'm a student. Now it's your job, so you take it to the next level. I feel like he's had great people around him early in his career like Deuce McAllister, the coaching staff and guys that have really tried to take him under their wing and help develop him a little bit. I feel like he has done a good job of that. He has battled some injuries here over the last four years at times. Maybe [he has] been a little disappointed at times just with kind of the role that he played, but I feel like he has really accepted that now and you see what he is able to do for us, not only running the football from the backfield, but when he's catching the ball out of the backfield, when he's split out catching passes, when he's returning punts. He's a very versatile player that can do a lot of things."
(On Quarterbacks Coach Joe Lombardi) "Joe has been great for me. Joe was one of our offensive assistants for the first two years in New Orleans and then became my quarterback coach this year. What Joe really brings is I think our dynamics are great within the quarterback room when you talk about the other quarterbacks, Pete Carmichael – our offensive coordinator – and Joe Lombardi. I think from an Xs and Os standpoint, both he and Pete Carmichael are remarkable. I think just our interaction and our way to kind of read each other, especially on game day. Joe Lombardi, he sits up in the box, but his ability to kind of decipher what's happening and really relay that information down to Pete and then to me I think is really vital for what we're trying to accomplish on the field on game day. Make adjustments and kind of identify what's happening. Really Joe has stepped in and done a great job at quarterback coach, and I'm glad to have him."
(On his leadership role with the NFLPA) "I think like any young player you get in this league and it takes you a little while just to kind of understand what the Players Association is all about – the services that they provide for you and the history of the National Football League Players Association and what so many men before you have fought for in order for you to have. So I think as a young player you don't fully understand or appreciate that until you have the opportunity to go to those meetings or have executive committee members on your team or player representatives on your team that really convey that message to you. It wasn't until my fourth or fifth year that I became an alternate rep and then a rep and now I'm on the executive committee. I take that leadership position very seriously, especially when you look at what's looming here in the very near future, obviously us all trying to extend another collective bargaining agreement."
(On his relationship with Colts QB Peyton Manning) "I met Peyton when it was his first year in the NFL, after his first year with the Colts, so I guess I would've been going into my junior season at Purdue. We had actually met at a golf tournament, ended up playing golf together, and then after that he would call me occasionally during my season just to give me encouragement. I went up to Indianapolis and saw him play a Monday night game against Jacksonville. I remember the game like it was yesterday because he broke the franchise record for passing yards in a game, it was like 440 [yards], and then I went and saw them play the Titans in the playoffs one year. I had a chance to see him after the game, see him at different events here and there. One time, specifically, we came back and beat Ohio State my senior year, and sure enough I have a message on my phone from Peyton saying, 'Hey, I had a chance to watch the game. I'm really happy for you. Way to battle.' For a young college player, here's Peyton Manning, second or third year in the league, already kind of coming into his own, Pro Bowl player, one of the best in the league, for him to kind of reach out to me like that meant a lot to me as a young player. Who would've thought 10 years from then we'd be sitting here playing in a Super Bowl against one another."
(On the development of Colts backup QB Curtis Painter) "I'm happy for Curtis. I obviously followed his career very closely at Purdue. I go back to Purdue at least once a year, and have a chance to see him as well as everybody within the football program. I've always been impressed with him, just the way that he has handled everything, both the ups and downs. I think he has fought through his fair share of adversity. Then to get an opportunity to come and play at the next level and be a backup to one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and of all time, really, I feel like that's great for him. I know he's had a chance to play a little bit this year, especially late in the season, and that's the only way you learn. That's the only way you get better, when you get those reps. Obviously you're not getting a whole lot of reps sitting behind Peyton Manning, but I've been happy for him."
(On watching his defense this postseason) "It has been fun to watch our defense. They are playing great, and it brings back memories from training camp. That was one of the most competitive offseasons and training camps that I've been a part of, just in regards to bringing in a guy like [Defensive Coordinator] Gregg Williams, who changes the attitude, changes the culture on that side of the ball, brings in his scheme and his style of play. Throughout the offseason and training camp, it was competitive. It was back and forth. So many periods, which normally would just be three-quarters speed or not full contact, all of a sudden turned into, 'Hey, we're making this period live.' Just because both sides of the ball you want to win so bad, and he's trying to breed that attitude on defense, and we're trying to breed that attitude on offense, so we're just going at it. In the end, I thought that we made them much better and in turn they made us a heck of a lot better, too, as an offense. I feel like that has been a huge part of our success this season. You watch them take it up a notch here in the playoffs, and obviously create some great opportunities for us offensively. It has been fun to watch."
(On his feelings about the fleur-de-lis symbol) "The fleur-de-lis symbol dates back to the French monarchy. So much of New Orleans' culture comes from the time when we were under French rule. That's just a big part of the culture. It's a big part of what New Orleans is all about. So when you look at that symbol, it is the symbol of the city. It's just like when you look at the American flag when you sing the National Anthem and you stare at it, it makes you well up with pride a little bit. When we see the fleur-de-lis, it makes us well up with pride."
(On his memories of National Signing Day) "Being that Florida is a high school football mecca just like the state of Texas, I would like to encourage all Florida high school players to consider Purdue when looking for an institution of higher education and playing in the Big Ten conference and all those things. Obviously I have an affinity for Purdue, not only because I went there, but just because they were one of the few schools that gave me an opportunity coming out of high school. I wasn't that highly recruited. Really it was Purdue and Kentucky. Both of those coaches, Joe Tiller at Purdue and Hal Mumme at Kentucky, had just gotten the job in December of my senior year and were trying to throw together a recruiting class. I wasn't getting any calls at the time and they called me up, set up the official visit, and I chose Purdue because of the great education, playing in the Big Ten conference and having an opportunity to play in that spread offense. I know that high school recruiting continues to get taken to the next level as far as kids committing a year more in advance. Their ability to get game film out and everything else over the Internet – it has kind of been taken to the next level. But definitely consider Purdue, all you guys down here in Florida."
(On his relationship with backup QB Mark Brunell) "I'm very happy for Mark. He's been in this business a long time. We actually sat the other day as a team and [Head Coach] Sean Payton kind of went around the room and said, 'How many guys have been to a Super Bowl?' Here's Mark Brunell having played 17 years and it's his first one. Coaches like [Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers] Joe Vitt on our staff, 31 years in this league, first Super Bowl. That's when you really realize how special it is. We've got guys on our team, plenty of them, rookies, second-year players, third-year players, and the minute you think that this comes around all the time, you're in for a rude awakening. It's hard to get to this game. It's extremely hard. A lot of things have to go your way. You really have to commit yourself. Mark has obviously had a great career as an NFL quarterback. One of the best. Three Pro Bowls, two AFC championship games – he's come close to this game. So to be able to give him that opportunity to be a part of this, the type of man he is, the type of father he is, he's just one of those guys that I really try to emulate a lot of what I do based on him."