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NFC Conference Championship Chat with Drew Brees

    <span>              <span style="">New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees</span>                
            <span style="">Wednesday, January 20, 2010</span>                 
            <span style="">Brett Favre said today he still gets nervous before games like this even with all the experience he has.  Do you think you'll be nervous Sunday, and do you still get nervous?  </span>                

"Absolutely. I still get nervous. When you stop getting nervous is probably the time you should get out. Just for a lot of reasons, I think butterflies are a part of the game, and that's what kind of keeps you on edge. So when guys say, I lost my edge, you lost your nervousness. That's part of it. That's how you keep your edge."

When did you fall in love with this city and what's it meant for you the past four years being here and part of the reconstruction of the franchise and the city?

"It's been unbelievable. I said this from the beginning, I felt like it was a calling. An opportunity to come here and not only being a part of the rebuilding of the organization and getting the team back to its winning ways, but to be part of the rebuilding of the city and the region. It's been very special."

What is the most special part about it?

"Well, so many things. Obviously, just like most people in this room well, a lot of the media guys might have been here but a lot of people watching were like me. You watched hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and New Orleans specifically on TV, and you just don't understand the magnitude of what happened here and the devastation until you actually come down and see it with your own eyes.

"So as a free agent, when I came on my visit six months post Katrina, it was still very much in shambles. Everybody was just trying to get their lives back together and rebuild their homes, figure out where their kids are going to go to school. Getting back to work and all those things. Many doubts.

"What we were able to do as a team and organization and the fans and the people of the city we were able to kind of really form a bond and come together. That bond is I think what's helped carry us all through and given everybody hope and uplifted the spirits of everyone.

"I think back to the specific moment. The opening of the Dome of "Monday Night Football" September 25, 2006, that was just a symbol that this city was going to come back, not only the way it was before, but better than it was the before. And we've continued to raise the bar since then."

Is part of that calling winning a Super Bowl in your mind?

"Absolutely. Do you play the game for any other reason than to be the best and try to win a championship? That's why I'm here."

You mentioned the reopening of the Dome. Can this game rival that emotion of that night?

"Well, sure. I mean I think we've experienced a lot of firsts since you call it the Sean Payton era here, since Sean came here. With Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson, they started bringing in a core group of guys that have now been here four years and establishing this team.

"Our first NFC Championship appearance back in 2006, first season of over eight consecutive wins. At 8 0, that was the first this year, and we took that to 13 0, and now hosting an NFC Championship game, it's never been done here. It seems like every week this year as we won one, and one, the atmosphere got crazier and crazier, and I would expect nothing less on Sunday."

When Reggie Bush is playing well, how much of a difference does that make in the offense?

"He's able to do so many things. He's a very versatile player that can obviously run the ball effectively out of the backfield, you can get it to him on the perimeter, throw the ball to him out of the backfield, split him out, throw the ball to him. What he brings in special teams in regards to the return game. When he's on, and he's hot, it's fun to watch."

You said a couple guys talk about he brings more during the playoffs and he's more limited during the season, getting healthy and really come out during the playoffs. What do you think about that and have you talked to him about being physical?

"Yeah, I think just for any young player – which Reggie's not so much a young player anymore, this is his fourth year – But during those growing years with him, you've got to learn how to be a running back in this league. It's different than running circles around people in college.

"The game is very, very physical. It's a long season. You have to learn how to do things in what we call just being a professional. You learn how to be a professional and take care of your body and sustain the beating you take over the course of 16 games and do the maintenance and all of that. The film study and the preparation it's no longer you're going to school during the day and going to practice in the afternoon. This is your full time job now. So just like all of us when we come in the league, you learn how to be a pro."

Going back to when you signed here as a free agent, how did Katrina play into that? And when you were visiting, you were looking at this place, was that a plus or a minus? I would imagine it's kind of unique?

"It's very unique. Just from an outsider's perspective, you would say your two choices are Miami and New Orleans. New Orleans 80% of the city damaged post Katrina and you're going there six months post Katrina. Or Miami, you know. From an outsider's perspective you say that is an obvious choice.

"For me, it was much different. I tried to look a lot deeper than just on the surface. Coming to a team that had struggled a little bit coming on off a 3 13 season, on obviously they had been displaced to San Antonio and played home games all over the place. Baton Rouge, San Antonio, you name it. And you're coming back to a facility that had been used by the coast guard and the government as kind of a staging ground for rescue missions and everything.

"You're looking around at a lot of the neighborhoods and there are still boats in living rooms and trucks flipped upside down on top of houses. Some houses just off the foundation and totally gone. You just say, man, what happened here? It looks like a nuclear bomb went off. For me, I looked at that as an opportunity. An opportunity to be part of the rebuilding process. How many people get that opportunity in their life to be a part of something like that?

"Also just from the standpoint of the way I was treated by the organization here, from Mr. Benson, our owner, to Mickey Loomis, our GM, to Sean Payton and the entire coaching staff and everybody here. They had as much confidence in me returning from my shoulder injury that year than they had as much confidence in me as I had in myself. And that meant a lot to me. Everybody else was, I think, counting me out a little bit. Miami had said at one point that I had a 25% chance of coming back to play. Whereas the guys here, they looked me dead in the eye and said you're the guy to lead this team. You're the guy to lead us to a championship. We believe in you as much as you believe in yourself and that meant a lot."

Can you talk about this challenge of your offensive line and your offense will have against the defense?

"These guys have one of the best defensive fronts if not the best in the league. They have some elite pass rushers. They've been able to get after the quarterback. Been very disruptive in the run game as well, just all around. It really starts up front, and the rest of the guys, the linebackers and DB's compliment them very well. They fly around. They make a lot of tackles. They've been able to get a lot of balls out, fumbles, balls on the ground. They just do a good job. You can tell they're well coached."

Can you talk about the difference of watching Brett Favre as a high school quarterback and college quarterback and now as a contemporary. Can you talk about the difference growing up watching this had guy now that you're kind of doing the same job as him?

"I think his style and the way he plays the game hasn't changed. I mean he looks like he's just having fun. I mean, that's the way the game should be played. Ever since his early days at Southern Miss all the way until now, that's what we've all admired about watching him. He looks like a kid out there having fun, but obviously has been very, very effective and productive. He's one of the best of all time."

When Dan Marino used to play against the Bills and Bruce Smith, he used to tell his offensive linemen that whatever they did not to piss off Bruce Smith. Do you sort of tell your own guys don't piss off Jared Allen?

"Well, I mean I think that it's football, obviously, so both sides are going to be getting after each other. But yeah, you don't want to give him any more motivation than he already has."

Your offensive line has risen to the challenge all season. Can you talk about their development?

"They've been awesome. I feel like we've got one of the best O lines, if not the best O line in the league. They've been together for a while now, I guess with the exception of Jermon Bushrod, our left tackle. This was his first year as a starter, but he's continued to develop and get better each year.

I've never been around a more tight-knit group. Not only are they spending time together here at the facility and watching film and doing all those things to prepare for games, but they spend a lot of time with each outside of football and outside of this facility. Doing the O line dinner every week, and they do a lot of charitable things together. They have their own charity, the offensive line. How many other teams have that? I think that speaks to their character and their fellowship, and just kind of the way that they the camaraderie between them all. They really take a lot of pride in keeping me clean and doing the job and being physical, being nasty. That's why I love them."

You mentioned Jermon as being one of the players with less experience. He is almost specifically matched up with Jared Allen. How do you see that matchup?

"Sure. That's going to be a huge challenge for him. But I think he's a guy who has gotten better every week, and he seems to have always stepped up to the challenge. So I look forward to that matchup."

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