Cleveland Browns LB Scott FujitaConference Call With New Orleans MediaWednesday, October 20, 2010
Q: Have you given any thought to what might be going through your head when you walk into the Superdome on Sunday?
"No, I am not trying to think too much about it at this point. I am trying to stick to the game plan and be as focused as I can because I think it will be natural for there to be some emotions with it. I am going to try and not get to caught up with it. I have too many teammates teasing me telling me I better not cry. I am looking forward to it and I am excited about the trip. It is going to be great to see everybody."
Q: Have you talked to any of your former teammates here since last Sunday?
"As soon as we finished playing in Pittsburgh and were on the bus ride home, ten minutes into that bus ride I had (Scott) Shanle, (Jonathan) Vilma and a few of the other guys collectively just talking smack for the majority of that bus ride. I guess that was to be expected and it was welcomed."
Q: What is your take on the NFL putting more of emphasis on punishing players for helmet-to-helmet hits?
"I think it is the kind of thing you don't implement in the middle of the season. I think it is a conversation that needs to be had in the offseason because people are going to have to change up some technique with tackling. Coaches are going to have to coach things differently. It ties the hands of safeties that are basically paid to separate receivers from the ball.
"We all want to protect players. That is something important for everybody to do but I think there is a lot of hypocrisy with what the league is doing right now. They talk about how they want to take care of players and how they are concerned for health and safety, but this is the same NFL that is proposing 18 games and gives no consideration for changing veterans' requirements for post-career medical coverage. This is the same NFL that is advertising with the 'big hit shots' and the highlights are all over the NFL Network to promote their game.
"As players, we are getting mixed messages here. We have to find out exactly what it is they are talking about and what they want to accomplish. I think we need a clarification on exactly what the rules are and, to me, it is something that needs to be addressed in the offseason. To do that midseason is tough to ask and it is something they need to talk to the union about."
Q: Is too much being made of your familiarity with the Saints from your time here?
"Yeah, I think so. Obviously I practiced against those guys for forever but it wasn't like we were ever game planning against them. It's not like I was always concerned with every check they were making. It is hard to pick that kind of stuff up when I am on my defense trying to figure out our stuff. I am familiar with some of the players and know some of their strengths and weaknesses but all in all this is an offense that comes out week in and week out and presents mismatches for everybody they face. I have always known how good they are and now that I am watching them on film closely as an opponent I realize that they are pretty damn good."
Q: You have played at your former team's place before but is this trip different since you won a Super Bowl here and had such a strong relationship with the city?
"Way different. It is hard to describe exactly what I think is going to take place when I get there. There are so many strong feelings about that city. I am always going to have those feelings. This will be my first time in New Orleans since the ring ceremony. I have been getting emails and text messages from pretty much everybody I know there for the last two weeks saying 'we can't wait for you to come home' or 'it's going to be so weird to see you in another uniform.' All those things are so nice and so appreciated. That is why I love the city so much because the people are outstanding."
Q: How was attending the ring ceremony? Was it awkward at all?
"It wasn't awkward. It was great to come back and see everybody. I think the timing of it helped. It was in the middle of June and that was months and months after I had moved on to another team. It was great to come back and to see everybody. I was sitting at a table with Mark Simoneaux and some other former players (laughter). It was great to get the ring and the memories I am going to carry forever is the time spent in the locker room and Super Bowl Sunday because that day is going to be with me for the rest of my life."
Q: Is this the most interview requests you have received in one week?
"Yeah, I am planning to wrap things up by this afternoon so that the rest of the week can be focused on the game. It's all good though. I have had calls from good friends of mine - all you guys. I consider you guys good people. Mike Triplett and (Brian) Allee-Walsh. I am going on the air with Bobby (Hebert) here in a little bit. I consider all you guys friends too. Now that I am no longer there, I can kind of extend those friendships."
Q: How big of game was it when you guys played at the Browns in your first game as a Saint and first New Orleans game under Head Coach Sean Payton?
"I think it was big because none of us knew what we had at that point. I have talked before about it was kind of a ragtag group of guys. They always called us castoffs. I think it was a bunch of guys that ended up in one place and they meshed together pretty well. Seven of the guys came in a week before that and Shanle got traded two weeks before. We had no idea what kind of defense we were going to field. To come out and things kind of come together pretty well and click for us we were like 'wow, we actually won that game?' After preseason that was pretty tough and a (training) camp that was brutal up in Jackson (Miss.) that kind of kick started things a little bit and we thought 'maybe we can play some pretty good football here.' Then to win the game up at Green Bay and to come back at the Dome – the rest was history."
Q: With the Saints having to play the AFC North this season, is that division's reputation of playing with a physical style accurate?
"Absolutely – it is a different brand of football. You see a lot of other teams doing the same types of things. Defensivly, three of the four teams are 3-4 teams that play physical and have big guys up front. They want to smash you with teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh and I think we have some great defensive players here. It is a whole different division that way.
"To me, the Saints offense matches up really well with anybody in the league. I go back to '06 and they struggled playing against 3-4 defenses but they fixed that a long time ago."
Q: When you were here, did you guys put to rest the thought that the Saints were more of a finesse team and not as physical? Did that bother you?
"I think we did have to prove that. We were questioned especially in '07 and '08. I think last year as a team we responded. Especially offensively, with the Saints offense running the ball the way they did. I think that really answered a lot of those questions and put to rest some of those critics."
Q: How is your team coming along?
"We are not playing all that bad but we just cant finish games the right way right now. That is disappointing. Every game has kind of played out the same way where a few times we had leads in the fourth quarter and let them slip away. Sometimes it is a turnover or a couple of dumb penalties on defense. It teaches you how small the margin for error in this league is. That is what is keeping us from winning and losing these games. Last week against Pittsburgh – same thing. It was 7-3 with a few minutes left in the third quarter. Some how in the fourth quarter things kind of unraveled and here we are at 1-5.
"I think I was telling (Mike) Triplett the other day that Sean (Payton) and Bill (Parcells) always say 'In the NFL, you are what your record says you are.' I guess we are 1-5 but I feel like we are a much better team than a 1-5 football."
Q: What have you seen out of Saints RB Chris Ivory when watching him on film?
"I watched him a lot last night in the Tampa Bay game. I remember seeing a highlight of him in the preseason doing a long run. I had no idea who he was but I remember thinking 'Damn, that guy looks pretty good." Watching the Tampa Bay game, he is pretty impressive. He is faster than I thought he was. He gets to the edge so quickly. He can stick his foot in the ground and turn up field pretty quickly. He runs violent and runs aggressive. I see him breaking a lot of tackles. He has some pretty good wiggle too. In some ways, his balance reminds me of Pierre (Thomas) a little bit. They are different backs but they both have tremendous balance."
Q: With the NFL emphasizing stricter penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits, can you see Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams telling his guys 'you have to be more careful and not hurt the guys you tackle?'
"No – I don't see that conversation taking place (laughter.)"
Q: When preparing for this game Sunday, have you seen or learned anything about Brees and this Saints offense from a different perspective?
" Not so much from a different perspective because I know how a guy like Drew works every single day. That is why I was always so impressed with him. I rank him as one of my best teammates of all time because I see the time he puts in and I see how important it is to him to play well. Watching him as an opponent now, he is just so sharp. You noticed that in practice and frustrating playing them in practice because they have so many ways to beat you.
"Now, trying to explain it to my teammates - this is a team that completed to 10 different receivers last week. The things they do are pretty impressive. For them to be able to do that over the last four years is a testament to the offense Sean and Drew have built together. It shows how well that offensive line has done staying intact and communicating as well as they do."
Q: Do you feel like you guys are facing the Saints at a bad time since they seemed to struggle at the start of the season but may have got back to form last Sunday? Even Drew's baby came on the team's off day so he didn't miss any time?
"I was hoping they would continue to struggle a little bit. I have to be honest with you. Right after our game I looked up at some of the other scores and I saw that it was 24-0 in the third quarter and I thought 'I guess the sleeping giant has woken up.' I was hoping they might continue to struggle a little bit but that offense is about as good as it gets.
"With Drew and his baby, I got a text from him yesterday so I am super happy for him. I was joking with my coaches saying 'hopefully that means he didn't get much sleep this week.' We will hope for the best with that."
Q: Have you thought about the reaction you are going to get from the fans on Sunday?
"No, I am just excited to come back. People have been great to me but I remember my first year there in '06, I remember Saints fans booing Morten Anderson. Morten was a friend of mine from when we played in Kansas City together and I was thinking 'how are you going to boo Morten Anderson?' I hope that doesn't happen but you never know."