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Q&A with Drew Brees on facing the Cowboys, league matters

Quotes and video from quarterback Drew Brees' post-practice press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It looks like Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are going to meet. What would you like to see done with the Personal Conduct Policy from a player's perspective?

"All I can say is I think that is a very good thing. I think anytime someone has unilateral decision over the decision and appeals process there is no system of checks and balances. I think this, with the addition of experts in the field in which these perhaps new policies will be created, and then certainly the oversight of these policies, the actual handing out of punishment and handling of the appeals process, if it's where you've got the (NFL)PA, the NFL Front Office and independent experts involved in that decision then you feel like the right decision will be made every time."

There is a little bit of slippery slope with disciplines where I'm sure you want due process to some degree but there is also…

"I think this is what you want, you want due process, you want a fair process and you want a transparent process, because too many times I'd say especially over the last few years that a punishment has been handed down and nobody has really seen the evidence except for those in the league office, supposedly. So decisions were made in kind of a 'trust us' but at the end of the day did the public see any of the facts? Did the accused see any of the facts? In most cases, no."

There have been some arbitrary rules too, right? Different disciplinary action for certain…

"Yeah, so you would say inconsistencies. This would make things very fair, very consistent and open and transparent."

Obviously people have made references to the bounty scandal. Do you think that is the best tie?

"I think it's a great tie because obviously the same things that I've heard, the same things that I feel, are the quotes that were thrown out at members of the Saints organization in regards to why they were being punished, things such as ignorance is no excuse and if you didn't know you should've known are things that would absolutely apply in this case except the roles are reversed and it is going back at Commissioner Goodell and the league office."

As well as the things about transparency and they trust us…

"Exactly. I think this is a long time coming. It's really unfortunate that all of this had to happen in order for this to become evident but I think it's something that a lot of us on the Players Association side have known for a long time and have pushed for for a long time but now the public knows, certainly the fan community knows and it seems like that is going to happen which is a very good thing, it's the right thing. It's the right thing."

Do you think Roger Goodell should step down?

"That's not up to me. I'm more focused on the solution as far as creating and then maintaining policies in which you can be consistent with, open with and transparent with and you are bringing together all parties that should be involved; the Players Association, the league office and independent experts."

Photos of Drew Brees against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, September 24, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

The other day you did not want to comment on the Adrian Peterson case. Now that some more things have come to light, could you give us your opinion? So many players have said this happened to me as a kid and look how I turned out. What are your feelings as a father of four?

"First of all, I haven't heard or seen anything other than what was going on last week so if things have come out in the last few days I have not seen them or heard them and can't comment on those. As far as discipline, that's an interesting topic because depending on maybe where you are from, your cultural background, religious background maybe, a lot of different factors go into how a parent chooses to discipline their child and then when maybe it goes too far or when it is viewed to go too far. This is a much bigger issue I think than just one instance."

Can it work both ways where maybe you have a blanket policy but maybe there is a case where you need some flexibility?

"I think every case is different. I think every case is different. I don't think it is always just black and white, that is why you have multiple parties involved to make sure that everyone comes together, cooler heads prevail, a decision isn't based on emotion at the time which I can say I believe has happened in the past in regards to commissioner discipline. It's been based on emotion as opposed to the facts, and this prevents that from ever happening again."

Last year against the Cowboys your offense was very efficient. I know these are different teams, but how can you mirror that this week?

"I would just say this, these are different teams now, at different places in the season than we were last year. Even though it is only a year apart, it's a different game. Listen, we have a lot of respect for the Dallas Cowboys. They are very talented. This is our next game, it is the most important game. It's Sunday Night Football in Cowboys Stadium. It doesn't really get any better than this at this point in the season. For us, we tripped up the first two weeks of the season and we came back with a nice win at home so we feel like we've got that first one under our belt and we broke the seal. We'd really like build on that and come out and play better this week than we did last week, that's really what we're focused on."

Personally, do you feel you can take your game to the next level?

"Listen, there is no doubt we can take it to the next level. There are certain things that we have focused on or are continuing to focus on that translate to winning football on offense. I think we have been extremely consistent over the last nine years and yet I still feel like we can be better in a lot of different ways. Really you strive for efficiency. You don't know how many opportunities you are going to have throughout the course of the game, so you want to make sure that you maximize them. You want to make sure that when you have that opportunity for a big play, man, you make that big play because those are game-changers. Those are momentum-changers. Those can be the difference and we can definitely be making more of those."

What are your favorite stadiums to play in on the road and what is your least favorite?

"I loved playing at Arrowhead stadium when I was in San Diego because we played there once a year and we'd always go there at the end of the year and there always seemed to be something at stake when we were playing the Chiefs. That was always a storied stadium going back to Hank Stram and Len Dawson days, both Purdue guys by the way. There are a lot of stadiums (that I enjoy), and for different reasons. The old Cowboys Stadium, in Irving, when I was a kid and growing up in Texas in the early (19)90's, the heyday of the Cowboys, and you'd wake up every Sunday morning and you'd go to church and come back home and you couldn't wait to watch the Cowboys. There are a lot of memories from a lot of stadiums but I'd say those two are the two that really stick out."

It appears that you guys have not been taking as many shots down the field, is that a result of just taking what the defense is giving you?

"Yeah, I think it is a combination of that and really I feel like we've dialed them up and just for one reason or another just had to go elsewhere. We're averaging six big plays a game, I think maybe our best we have been eight to nine big plays a game, so there are a couple more that hopefully we could start making. Obviously those are difference-makers in a game and especially when you talk about the first two weeks of the season the way that we lost some of those games, we were one play away here and there and maybe that one play is the one that makes the difference so we would like to be there to make it."

Have defenses made more of an effort to take those away?

"Every defense is so different, honestly. It's a little bit of a copy-cat league so defenses that had success the year before, typically early in the season you will see defenses trying to mimic what others did. At the end of the day you have to build a defense around your personnel, the things that you're good at and then, obviously, how you are going to match up against another offense. I just know going in to every game it's how are they going to handle these formations, these personnel groups, these players, these situations, and it's a constant chess match. I'd say for the most part people understand our big play capability and so obviously they are trying to kind of manage that."

How do you guys define a big play?

"A big play is considered a run play of over 10 yards and a pass play of over 20. I'd say in general that is how most people evaluate it. It might vary by a few yards here or there but that's generally how we look at it."

Are you still kind of wondering what you guys are?

"Well here we are, we are very early in the season, we're 1-2, we're a team that really wants to win. I'd say there is an extreme sense of urgency to do that. We understand how tough our division is, how tough the conference is and how every win counts so much. At the end of the day, I can tell you what we preach, the things that we teach and the things that we talk about offensively, it's taking care of the football, it's being able to run the football, it's being able to make big plays, it's being able to convert third downs, it's being extremely efficient in the redzone, it's all of the things that most teams preach and yet I feel like in a way we are kind of competing against the offenses that came before us on this team, within the Saints organization. There is a level of pride that goes into that that not only are you going out and competing against the defense that you are playing that week and you're trying to score as many points as you can, play as complementary of a game as you can with your defense, but at the end of the day you are kind of asking yourself how we stacked up against the teams that came before us, because we want to be considered one of the best. I feel like we have the capability to do that."

Have you had to do some of the things that you have done in past due to personnel changes?

"No, I don't think so, because each year is a new year. Each year is a new year with new challenges and new opportunities and a new team. Yeah, there are some young guys that are still just kind of falling in line and understanding how to do things and how to be professional and taking the guidance and leadership of the veteran guys, there always is. I'm excited about those guys because all of those guys get a chance to really be productive and be key players for us for a long time."

With Derek Jeter retiring this week, what is one sentence that comes to mind?

"Unbelievable. He's played for such a long time. It's hard to envision a Yankees roster without him on it. How many professional seasons does he have, 20 almost? More All-Star games and five championships. I'll always remember the play that he made, I believe it was against the (Arizona) Diamondbacks in one of those games where he basically ran from the shortstop position to help cut the ball off because he saw that it was going in the wrong direction and he caught it and just bare-handed it to the catcher and the catcher tags the guy off at home and I think they ended up sending it to a game seven maybe or something like that. Oakland. I envision that play because he always seemed to be making those kinds of plays, plays that just nobody else on the field could see except for him and I think that just says a lot about who he was and what type of player he was and it seems like he was a really beloved sports figure in New York, which can be hard to do and yet he did it with a lot of class and hats off to him."

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