New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
What is your reaction to what happened with the ruling yesterday?
"The dismissal? The vacating of the suspensions. Obviously, this has been a nine month ordeal. I'm so happy for our players; Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith and of course Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove who are no longer with us. I think that this was some serious vindication. Certainly they've been through a lot, (they) had to go through a lot. Basically what got overturned was 31 games of suspension, millions of dollars of salary, but most importantly their reputations. Thank God for the fight and the resolve that all of those guys have for justice and to fight for a fair process because that's all that they've ever wanted. That's all that anyone within this organization has ever wanted. The unfortunate thing is, I feel like the NFL, through this whole process, including Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, has been all about an outcome as opposed to a fair process. That's all we've wanted this entire time and that's what we fought for. Finally, we got that. What I would like to see is a level of accountability on the part of the NFL and Commissioner Goodell in regards to the mishandling of this entire situation. We, as players, hold ourselves and are held to a very strict code of conduct both on and off the field. We have to be accountable to that, as it should be. I feel like they should be held to the same standards. If someone would just come out from the league office and admit that they could have handled this situation better, it would go such a long way with both players and fans. I think people have really come around to realize what this thing was all about from the beginning. Right now, the league office and Commissioner Goodell have very little to no credibility with us as players and, I'd say, with a lot of the fans because of the way that this has taken place. Like I say, we're held to a very strict code and that's enforced, as it should be, and we take pride in that as players. I would just like to see them hold themselves to the same level of accountability. Also, I would love to see a full record of all the testimony from last week be put forth for players, coaches, fans, and everybody to see. That would tell a lot of the true story about what has been going on this whole time."
If Jonathan Vilma continues with his defamation lawsuit, could those records still come out?
"I'm not sure of all the details. Obviously this is far from over in regards to his lawsuit and potentially others. I know that there is still a lot more that will come out in regards to this dismissal."
What about the feeling that is left about the organization with them saying the reason they couldn't get to the bottom of the case was because of the contamination of the process by the organization?
"I hate to say this because it sounds so conspiracy theorist but it seems like the last month or so, especially once (Paul) Tagliabue stepped in, it's very staged as in 'ok, how do we get ourselves out of this mess? Let the players off.' Thank God we have union that can represent the players and fight for a fair process and represent our guys. Unfortunately, the coaches don't have that. The coaches are told the way it's going to be and they have no way to fight back. I'd say, certainly, that Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt and Sean Payton didn't deserve what they got. That's the way I feel about that."
Did you think the decision would be completely overturned like that?
"I think we all had a good feeling just because a lot of us know the truth of the matter and know just how unfair this process has been the entire time, just hoping, praying that (Paul) Tagliabue would see it as such. Of course his statements in regards to his decision were still very harsh towards our coaching staff and our organization. I think it paints us in a bad light. We are very prideful about this organization. We feel like we do things the right way and we have for a long time, certainly since Sean (Payton) has been here and since a lot of us have been here. We treat people the right way. It's why people want to come work here and play here. To be attacked like that, even though it's your friends, it's your coaches, maybe it's not you directly, you're still a part of it and you take that personally. I'm very happy we were able to get the players vindicated and their suspensions dismissed but you could see in the decision yesterday that it was still very defamatory towards our organization, our coaches and some of the terms used about the contamination of the evidence and us standing in the way and the lying, the manipulating and that kind of thing. That's unfortunate that we were still painted in that light."
Do you feel that this season has been stolen from you all because of what has happened with the reversal of the suspensions?
"Here is the thing; many people would probably say that but I'm not one to make excuses and so I'm not. I'm not even going to go there. This has been a tough season thus far. There has been so much swirling around us this entire time. We have done our absolute best to try to stay focused and eliminate distractions and fight through it. It is what it is. We're in the situation we're in. We're 5-8 and we're trying to finish the season. It, obviously, did not meet our expectation level, the result of the season. It'd be very easy to sit here and make excuses and blame other people but we're not going to do that."
Why was pride so important in this?
"Pride because you know the way that you handle yourself. You know the way that you conduct yourself both on and off the field and that's being challenged with these accusations going back to February. Even though there was only a select few that were actually named in this things, and suspended and that kind of thing, we all represent this organization so we're all a part of that and people want to lump you in the same category. We take pride in doing things the right way and treating people the right way. We've created a great culture, a great environment here. Like I said, that's why people want to come work here and play here. You can go in our locker room and ask any one of those guys and they can give you comparisons as to what it's like here compared to other places. We have a body of work here too to justify that, to prove that, over the last seven years. When anybody challenges the way that you do things and wants to paint you in a certain light, certainly when you know that it's not true, that upsets you. I'm glad that justice has been served in this way for the players. They can't go back and do anything with the coaches. What's done is done and it's a shame."
You've been such a great representative for this league but then something like this happens to you. Is it hard for you to still believe in and defend everything about the league that you did before? How did your perception change?
"I love this game. I believe in this game. I hope I can play for a long time. I love this organization. I want to be a part of this organization forever. It is disappointing. It kind of breaks your heart a little bit but I guess you also have to step back and say that I'm not going to be naïve. This is big business. In a lot of cases this is creating revenue, it's limiting liability, it's a lot of other things that I think happen in any big business situation. I just think, and maybe this is naïve, there's just this purity to the game that you want to believe in, you want to hold close to you. Unfortunately, you realize that in some cases with who you're dealing with and how things are handled that it's just not always fair. You know, life isn't always fair. You have to fight for what is right though. When you feel like you've been wronged, which we certainly did in this case, we fought for what was right. To an extent, justice was served for our players. Like I said, you can't take back the things that were said, the accusations that were made, what was done to the coaches, the light that we've been painted in with this new decision and just maybe the reputation. We're going to keep doing things the way we always have. That's not going to stop."
Did it bother the locker room that a guy like Mike Cerullo was given so much credibility in this?
"I'm sure this is going to come out later but that was another thing, I know through this whole case that our coaches and our players were lied to on many occasions by the league office, the investigators, as to where they were getting their information and everything else. They made it seem like they had this rock-solid case made up of other coaches and players when in reality they had the testimony of Gregg Williams and Mike Cerullo, two disgruntled employees that were fired here because they did not fit the mold of what we're about. Clinically, the jury is probably still out on where these guys are at mentally. To put all of your eggs in that basket, to basically take the testimony of those two guys and deem it as fact, vs. fiction, as it pertains to this organization and the members of this organization, the accused, that have so much respect and credibility built up, it's just hard to believe. That's why as you really start to dig deeper you see that there is so much more at play here. Is there a health and safety agenda at play? Is it about arrogance and ego? Is it about 'we have to come up with an outcome' as opposed to really finding the truth in this matter. We, as players, we can handle the truth. If you find that there was wrong-doing and it was truthful and you can prove it, then it is what is and punishment is deserved. Obviously, as you can see, that was not the case."
You became more vocal as the process went on. What prompted that?
"It was really the process. All we wanted was a fair and truthful process. The more that I talked to people and realized what was happening, it was that the league was more concerned with an outcome than they were with a fair process. It was guilty until we are not even going to give you the chance to prove you're innocent. Unfortunately the coaches didn't have that opportunity. The players did, they fought for it, they were found innocent."
Where has Joe Morgan come from since training camp when he had some struggles on the field?
"I am really happy for Joe Morgan. (He's) a young guy, just raw. (He) Traveled an interesting road to get here, he obviously spent the year on IR (Injured Reserve) last year so really no experience other than just getting through training camp this year and then kind of finding his way on to the roster and maybe we could work this guy in from time to time. He just continued to open up the playbook for him. What I see, more than anything, is just a confidence level. The more that we give him, the more that he embraces it. The more that I see him coming out of the huddle, he's decisive. He's confident. He knows where to line up, he knows the ball can come to him at any moment, and so you feel that sense of urgency. Certainly you can't argue what he's done when the ball has been anywhere within ten feet of him. He'll go up and get it, he'll make a guy miss. He had some pretty unbelievable runs after catches with his, maybe, first two catches. A guy that I'm excited about, that we're excited about, and we'll see how it continues to evolve for him."
Not just from a football perspective, but personally as well, how much have you missed Sean Payton this year?
"We can talk more about this when the season is over but I miss him a lot. I do."
Can you talk about finishing this season out strong?
"That's all we can control is the next three weeks and how we want to define ourselves for the season. You try to block out a lot of what's happened prior to this. I think we would all recognize we haven't played our best football, especially down the stretch here. The only way we can make that right is by going out here these last three weeks and really putting it together the way that we know how. We want to end the season on a high note, feeling good about ourselves, feeling good about the future. We've got a great opportunity this week."
Is Tampa Bay a better football team than they were when you first faced them?
"Yeah, and they're playing for a lot too. They still have a shot (at the playoffs). I think that, defensively, they've had some injuries I know that have hurt them in the secondary. I see a fast team that flies around, around the ball a lot. That front four can be disruptive. Run game, they're giving up the fewest rushing yards in the league. They can be disruptive in the pass game and then they've got some guys on the back end that have some ball skills led by the crafty veteran, Ronde Barber. I would say, it's been seven weeks since we played them, I know they're playing for a lot. We're playing for a lot in our hearts. It's always competitive with these guys too being a divisional game, but especially with these guys."
Can you talk about how Ronde Barber moving to safety has worked for them?
"He's such a great football player. Here is the thing, there are packages where he comes down and he plays at linebacker level. He's almost like a linebacker. He's covering the running back, maybe he's covering the tight end, maybe he's blitzing. There are so many things he can do; he's so versatile. He's smart and he's instinctive. There's a reason he's played for as many years as he's played for."
A lot of the recent interceptions have been passes intended for Jimmy Graham. Is there any reason for that? Have defenses been paying more attention to him?
"No, I don't think there is anything to that. I know it just happened to be that this last game both of them were intended for him but that hasn't been the case."
How are defenses paying attention to him? Is he covered differently than he has been?
"I would say everybody has a plan and you see that plan develop during the course of a game. Different defensive personnel packages, maybe according to what we're doing, according to where he is, is he split-out, is he in line, is he inside the formation. You kind of pick up on those things. You're always aware of what that matchup is because, obviously, he's a guy that you feel pretty good about no matter who's covering him."
"In late June, we are launching our first annual Drew Brees Passing Academy at Disney and ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. I am very excited about. There is going to be an instructional camp portion to it and then there is going to be a seven-on-seven passing tournament element to it. We're going to have a few NFL players there and NFL coaches that will provide the instruction. KSA Events is the group that is helping us put that event on, as well as Disney. For more information, you can go to KSAevents.net/drewbreespassingacademy . One of those extremely unique opportunities to align yourself with a place like Disney that certainly is the model of professionalism. You talk about ESPN's Wide World of Sports and the opportunity to do a camp there, to do a seven-on-seven passing academy there is really the experience of a lifetime for these seven-on-seven teams from around the country to be able to come down there, to get the instruction from the NFL coaches and players, to participate in the actual seven-on-seven tournament and the competitive nature of that whether you're an established seven-on-seven team or an up-and-coming one, I think the moments and the memories you can create from something like this and also the packages that are built in provide you a lot of time to be able to spend at the park and enjoy that as well. It's a really great opportunity and we're extremely excited about it."