Jonathan Vilma Q and A
Well, how does it feel to be a Saint?
"It feels awesome. I can't wait to meet my new teammates, all the coaches and all the people in the organization. I am really excited. I know it's a good group of guys there and I know we are going to do good things together."
At what point did you think it was a real possibility that you could be headed to the Saints?
"I really didn't want to get my hopes up too high. I always tried to keep a cloud of doubt around me because you never know what can happen. There was obviously a lot of speculation kind of swirling and I tried not to get my hopes to high that it would be New Orleans. But I can say that at the end of the day it is where I wanted to be and am just really excited to be able to say I am a Saint. The waiting has been pretty hard. Then my agent called and said it looked like the Saints and Jets had completed a trade. It was a great piece of news."
Were you aware that the Saints had a lot of interest in you when you were coming out of Miami?
"I knew that the Saints looked at me and spent some time scouting me. I know that there were a few other teams interested as well but you just never know what is going to happen. It is really out of your control. It wasn't until I actually spoke to Mickey (Loomis) last week that I found out they were really considering drafting me in 2004 if I would have been available."
You spent time with Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton in Indianapolis last week. What did you take from your meeting with them?
"The meeting really was interesting. We talked some football, we talked about life, and we covered a lot of ground, such as their expectations, my expectations and it went really well. The coaches were getting a feel for me and I enjoyed being around them and what they were all about. The thing I took away from meeting them was how comfortable and familiar I felt with them. The good thing about it was they are really good people and I think they felt comfortable that I am, too."
You were sidelined midway through the 2007 season with a knee injury. Can you talk about where you are in the rehab process and what your next few months will look like?
"The next few months are laid out in front of me as far as what I have to do to get back to 100%. I haven't had any setbacks and my progress has been excellent to this point and moving right along. I haven't had any setbacks and am doing everything that I should be doing at this point in time. I am really progressing and have people that are working closely with me. I feel good."
Being a sideline-to-sideline defender has been one of the trademarks of your career since you were at Miami. Do you have any concern that the medical procedure you went through will limit you in any way from being that type of player?
"No. Not at all."
You were a team captain at Miami and again with the Jets. How would you describe your leadership style and what role you think a captain has on a team?
"My leadership style is what I would consider a combination of being a vocal leader and by leading by example. It has to be that way, I believe. You have to be able to demand things from your teammates but back it up by showing them that you care and you demand the same thing from yourself. When the leaders are setting the example and everyone buys it, then you are onto something. It's a great feeling. As far as what I do, I want to be the first guy through the drills; the first guy setting the tempo and the tone and I expect the same thing from my teammates. I know in talking to people that there are a lot of great guys at the Saints and that winning is important to them, It's not something they talk about, it's something that they are about. I like that."
You are notorious for being a player that is pretty serious about watching a lot of film. How did that come about?
"I learned it in college and it became a habit. The defensive coordinator at Miami then was the head coach there now, Randy Shannon. He spent a lot of time with me showing me how to watch film and the different things to look for and the places you look to see if someone is tipping a play off. He taught me about a lot of the little things to look for and I saw quickly that it was giving me an edge in the games and I bought in and it's a big part of my preparation and it's something I enjoy."
It is rare that starting middle linebackers in the NFL also line up and play on special teams but, on occasion, that is something you have done. Can you discuss the importance of jumping in and getting involved on specials?
"The way I look at it, special teams is just as important as offense and defense. I will do whatever it takes to help out to win games. That's the bottom line. We are here to win games."
You shot a United Way commercial that featured you on a roof of a New Orleans home shortly after Hurricane Katrina. What are your thoughts now about being able to come here and lend a hand to the re-building efforts?
"I am familiar with the devastation that Hurricanes can do having grown up in Miami. I know that there are areas of the New Orleans that really need help. I haven't actually been to the Lower Ninth Ward and don't know exactly what to expect. I know it's probably not going to be good, but it's something that I want to get involved with and figure a way out to help and lend a hand."
Do you know any of the players on the Saints?
"I know a few. I know (DT) Orien Harris and (TE) Buck Ortega. We were teammates and friends at Miami. I have meet a few guys, like Will Smith and Reggie Bush in passing and enjoyed getting to know them. I am looking forward to getting to New Orleans and meeting all my new teammates."
Fans here are calling the talk shows and hitting the message boards and are excited about your arrival. What would you like to say to them?
"Tell them to get ready."