New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
*How are you holding up after hearing the news about your grandfather? *"Unfortunately, he passed the day after Christmas, yesterday morning. I've been on the phone with my family quite a bit and with my grandmother especially. The funeral services will be next week and I'll have a chance to be there with my family and spend time with them and grieve."
*You've talked about him and written about him before, but for those who don't know, what did he mean to you? *"He was probably one of the most incredible people, incredible men that you could ever meet. They just do not make them like that anymore, honestly. He was 92 years old. He lived an incredible life. He taught me so much about life, about respecting others, caring for others, about discipline, and about hard work. Obviously, he was a football coach for 38 years so there was plenty of ball being coached along the way, but more so than that just spending time with him. Watching him and my grandmother, they modeled us for what a relationship and marriage should look like. They were married for 67 years and that is pretty remarkable. A guy who grew up from very humble means in Brady, Texas, which if you look at a map of Texas is in the dead center of Texas. His dad was a straw boss or basically like a sharecropper on a big property and he grew up in a house with basically a dirt floor, no running water, no electricity. He'd have to take the mulls to the well to go get water maybe once a week. You basically had to hunt, kill, and grow whatever you ate. He rode a horse to school. So when people have this impression of what Texas is and what it is like, that was my grandpa. He rode a horse to school. When he turned 18 years old and graduated from high school, he took a train down to San Antonio with some other boys from his high school and they enlisted in the Marine Corps. There were about 100 guys there when they got there and ran through a battery series of physiological and psychological tests, and they only choose ten of them. They said, 'you ten have qualified to have the opportunity to be a Marine and go serve your country.' He took a train over to San Diego, went through Marines boot camp, shipped over to Guadalcanal for more training, and was there for the invasion of Okinawa, Japan on April 1, 1st Marine Division, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, Special Weapons Company. What he endured over there, I heard a lot about that over the years from him. He was very proud of being a Marine. That was something he took so much pride in and while it was hard to talk about the war for a long time, I think he reached a point where he felt like there were so many lessons from it and it was a way to honor the guys that he served with to. He had 153 men in his Special Weapons company and was one of three to survive. That just tells you how brutal that fighting was over there. The fact that he made it back and went on to become a football coach (was impressive), he actually played college football at Southwest Texas University from 1946 to 1950. He had the opportunity to go play center for the Chicago Bears in 1950. They were going to pay him $500 a month so he was going to make $6,000 a year. Instead of that he decided to go become the athletic director of a 1A high school in South Texas where he was going to be the head football coach and athletic director. Times have changed a little bit, but that was the start of his coaching career. He was a coach, athletic director, and a teacher for 38 years. He retired in 1988 in New Baden, Texas to his property that he bought out there in 1960, where he basically did all the work on that land. He had about 100 head of cattle. That's what he loved, he loved being out there, working on fences, and feeding the cows, and checking on the heifers, and doing all that stuff. That's the stuff I got to do with him as well, me and brother, and the rest of my family. Lots of good times, lots of good moments. He came to watch a lot of football games. He was an incredible man, I have a ton of memories, and his legacy will live on forever in his family. Those are all the things I want to instill in my kids too."
*Do you know when you'll get a chance to go pay your respects? *"I'll be there Monday and Tuesday next week."
*You still have so much to play for in week 17, how important is that for young guys who haven't had a taste of the playoffs while other teams might rest people, these guys are still grinding it out in the last week of the season? *"The good thing about that is it keeps you sharp, you keep your edge, you are playing for something, it is significant. We want to continue to improve, we want to play our best football, especially as we head into the playoffs. The number one goal or first order of business is to win the division before you can start thinking about anything else. We have that opportunity and we control that. I think that's the part that's exciting about this. Obviously, last week was a big win, Christmas and time with your family (was great), now it's time to get back to work and go win this football game."
*I know you don't care about the single season completion percentage record, but you've had the highest career completion percentage for a while. Why do you think you're so accurate and what goes into that? *"I guess I have guys that run good routes and catch the ball, we have a good scheme, we have guys that block. There's so much that goes into that. It's not just one thing or another. I was always told that completions are good, completions are positive plays, and as Marty Schottenheimer used to say, 'you'll never go broke taking a profit."
*Have you noticed some of the statistical similarities between 2009 and 2017? *"No, I have not. In my recollection of that, we were very balanced, we were a top ten team in pass and run, I believe we are now, I don't know the statistics exactly. (We were) top five in points scored, I think we are there as well. I think (we were then and are now) taking care of the football as well. These are all things I know are a winning formula. I don't know exactly how it compares to 2009, but I feel like we've been good in that regard and I feel like we can be even better."
*Was getting back to that balance a conscious focus going into the year? *"Balance has always been a focus, but I think this year we've found some things that we can really hang our hat on. We have a great offensive line that really understands those schemes, the balance between run and pass, the run sets up the pass, the pass sets up the run, they're complementary of one another, and we have two backs that are, obviously, exceptional."
How have you seen Michael Thomas grow and evolve from last year to this year?"He's grown a ton. A lot of guys come in and the term I would use is raw. They are young, they are talented, they have a lot of want to, but they just need to learn how. There is not a guy who thirsts for knowledge more than Mike Thomas. He wants the information, wants to know exactly where to line up, and what is the depth, and what is the timing, and rhythm, and then just understanding and repping it. His work ethic's second to none. It starts there and then it's just experience. As you encounter these things in practice, and then in the game, then it becomes more second nature. It's kind of this ESP that works in because you're able to fall back on those things when maybe in a game and that's something that wasn't in the playbook and on the sideline, you say, 'remember this route, remember this concept, remember how they're playing this, we can attack them this way.' And know you just have to understand it?"
Have you ever seen Alvin Kamara get discouraged at any point and how has he handled that?"I think his demeanor is one that is pretty calm, cool, and collected so I do not think you are ever going to see him too high or too low. He is pretty even keel and I like that. Especially, when it comes to having to face adversity at times or if something does not quite work out the way that you want, or you are frustrated trying to work through a certain technique, or whatever it might be. He has got just kind of a cool nature to him. I think he's a very confident guy, and (he) knows his ability, and knows that if there is something that is missing then we are going to get it, and we will just sit there and work on it until we have it. He's very natural and instinctive when it comes to a lot of the things you are talking about with football type stuff."