American Idol judge and New Orleans Saints fan Harry Connick Jr. was a guest on Thursday's Black and Blue Report (interview starts at the 11:45 mark). The Jesuit alum talks about his Saints gameday rituals, new touchdown celebration ideas for Jimmy Graham and what position he would play for the Saints. Highlights from the interview are below:
There is no doubt that you have represented the Black and Gold all over the world and most notably on American Idol so thanks from all of us at 5800 Airline Drive.
"The Saints have made me proud. I've said this so many times. I've been a fan since I was a kid. I remember after Katrina and I tell this to people, undoubtedly too me, the Saints are the singular reason New Orleans is back on the map. We have so much love for this team, in the good times and the bad times. Fortunately, we've had so many good times recently and it's just been a pleasure to celebrate Coach (Sean) Payton, Drew (Brees) and the whole organization. I talk about them all over the world - every chance I can."
Have you followed the offseason moves? What do you think about what Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have done here?
"Listen, I put all my faith in those guys. It hurts to lose some players that you've grown so fond of but listen these guys know what they're doing. I'm just excited about the new pick-ups. We don't, and I say we as fans, don't know anything. You can look online. I try to follow stuff as much as I can but you never really know what goes on behind the scenes. I put all my trust in Coach Payton and Mickey and Mr. Benson and everybody because I know that they really have the interest of the team at heart."
You tweeted with Coach Payton not too long ago. You said you were thinking about a position you would play with the Saints. What would that be?
"I'd have to be a tight end. I'd happily go in behind Jimmy (Graham) and bend. I don't quite have the size. I'm running about 6'1 about 210, 215. I don't really have the speed but I have the enthusiasm. I'm not so sure how good I look in the uniform. I'll sing a hell of a national anthem. I can really rally the team so I can give a different perspective."
At least you won't have to dunk over the goal post now because that's illegal.
"I have a solution to that for Jimmy Graham: as opposed to dunking, I think he should just go and knock the goal post down. Because there is no rule about that."
No you're in the clear there.
"I think if he just rams the goal post, it doesn't have to be hard. He doesn't have to knock it down. If he could just slightly knock it off axis and that will give them a whole new set of things to worry about. I'm a little bit bummed about the new rule to be honest with you."
Tell about your latest musical effort and what every man should know.
"The good thing about being a songwriter is that you can make stuff up and fantasize. If I knew what every man should know, I'd be a wealthy wealthy man. The album is called Every Man Should Know and I basically wrote it thinking… Like for example when I go to a Saints game and I see somebody like Drew Brees or any of those players, I say we all wish we could do that. I mean we all fantasize about that. When I see a great work of art or I'm on an airplane and the pilot is flying the plan I think wouldn't it be cool to do that. I can't do any of those things but I do love my wife and my family and I think we all have the capacity to love and that's basically what the song is about. What makes the world go around is all of these talents and skills but what holds us together is the capacity to love."
What was your reaction when Drew Brees' face popped up on the big screen at American Idol?
"I was surprised for two reasons. Drew knows that I'm his biggest fan so the fact that I was legitimately surprised that he had that message for me. He was saying 'Hey, don't be too hard on the kids' and I'm thinking to myself talk about a work ethic and people beating fundamentals into your brain your whole life. I'm hoping he was kidding because I think it's important that in any walk of life, to work on your fundamentals. I know he was kidding around because it's important to get these kids to learn their craft, just like any pro athlete has to do."
It's your dad's birthday. Isn't that the former district attorney, Mr. Connick?
"That's it. He's 88."
Your father has been a big influence on you right?
"He really has. I still call my dad and ask him for advice. He critiques me all the time and I listen very carefully. I called him this morning and we were talking about the American Idol show last night. I just like to hear what he says. He was saying that being in political debates you have a very short amount of time to make the points that you're trying to make and what I'm doing isn't a debate but how can I be more articulate and more helpful. He's just great at that. He has an immense amount of experience. I just really look up to me. I feel so lucky that I'm 46 years old and I can pick up the phone and call my dad and we can laugh. We can talk about the old days. I can learn from him. It's just a great blessing."
You're a Jesuit guy. Is the story true that you used to entertain during the lunch hour at the piano?
"I used to do that all the time. In fact, the people who knew me at Jesuit probably remember that I enjoyed that more than what I was there for which was going to school and getting an education. I had a great time at Jesuit. They were always very supportive of me giving lunchtime concerts and doing extracurricular stuff. They were great, especially then. Now, the arts are a little bit more accepted a bit. Being a musician in an academic environment seems to be more accepted. I'm not sure why. I'm not even sure if that is accurate but that's just the feeling I get. I went to Jesuit from '81-85 and it was a little unusual for me to be doing those things. All the faculty there and the other students were really supportive."
How do you go about your Saints gameday?
"Well I'm in one of three places. One is either at the game, which is unfortunately infrequent because I travel a lot. Two is at my house. Everything shuts down at my house. My wife is a huge Saints fan. In fact, I think she would leave me for Jimmy Graham and I'm not kidding about that. My kids are Saints fans. Everything shuts down.
"If you're not a Saints fan, you have to leave. Or I might be on the road somewhere. The last time this happened to me was that awful defeat against New England in the last seconds. I was actually auditioning for American Idol. I was just beside myself because I don't miss games. And what am I supposed to do? It was happening at the same time. As professional as I try to be, it was distracting. I was distracted. I was uncomfortable. I was irritable because I knew the Saints were playing at the very same time I was listening to these singers. It was awful. I hope it never happens again. But we work this into my schedule. I tell my manager don't book me on those days because it's going to be ugly."
Will you bring Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Seacrest to a game here and really show them what a good weekend here is like?
"Listen, Jennifer has worn black and gold twice and now she knows. I say, 'You know what you're wearing right?' and she says 'Okay, Who Dat. I get it. I'm a Saints fan.' I would love to bring them because I watched that New England game with Keith and I think he saw a side of me that he'd never seen. It's so emotional and so intense watching those games and I think they both get it. This is something that they really don't understand. You don't see it in any other city. Like I know people from Seattle, New York, Chicago, Dallas and they are all diehard fans but there is something else. It's just a deep deep connection and it goes beyond football. Unless you're from New Orleans you just don't understand. You don't get it."
Would you give some thought to maybe composing and arranging a Saints song?
"I'd love it. I'd love to do that."
I don't know what kind of style it would be.
"It'd have to be rocking. All the people want to do is have fun and dance and party so it would have to be a really driving kind of New Orleans groove and a feel good tune. That's a great idea. I guess those songs that are already written are so well loves that it never occurred to me to do it. Maybe I'll give it a shot.
"I'm not over the crunk thing. I think we need to give it another year or two. I'm still feeling it. I still get chills when I hear it."