Last week the Saints announced they resigned quarterback Luke McCown to a two-year deal. McCown appeared on Wednesday's edition of the Black and Blue Report on Tuesday.
Luke, congratulations on the new deal. It's nice to have you back with the Black and Gold.
Well, thank you. It's an honor to be a part, continue to be part of this fantastic organization and ultimately it's what I wanted, my family wanted. We are thrilled to remain with the team.
How was this free agent process for you? Was it as simple like you said as you were just wanting to come back, work out a deal with the Saints or was it a little more complicated than that?
Well, it really was that simple. Now, I mean I guess when you're talking about business it's never simple but it was a process that really I had never been through. In my previous 12 years, I had only ever entered free agency without a contract one other time and at that point I was coming off an injury and I really didn't have as much opportunity to explore the market so to speak. This was really a different circumstance for me and to go on a visit to kind of I guess more or less explore that process a little bit was different to say the least. Again, ultimately what my desire, my wife's, and my family's desire was to remain in New Orleans. I certainly am glad that we were able to come to terms on a deal and that worked out really well for both sides.
Yeah, no doubt about that. You've been here since 2013. What is it about the organization and your relationship with Drew Brees that made you want to come back here?
Well listen, Drew is a very special part of everything New Orleans Saints and to be in the room with him to continue to be eyes and ears for him in the locker room, on the sideline, the meeting room, has been a joy the previous three years. I certainly wanted to continue that, continue what we have really started and continue to build on. A lot of it came down to the lives that we've invested in and I say we, the time that Drew and I as elder statesmen in the locker room have invested in these young players and young receivers and continue to invest in their lives as young men, as football players and to see them mature and to see them grow. That was a big part of why I wanted to come back and be in a room with a guy like Drew. It's hard to want to leave that. It's hard to want to think that you're going to find that somewhere else. I really do think that we have, including Pete Carmichael and Joe Lombardi back again, a very unique room in the sense that we thoroughly enjoy working together and thoroughly enjoy bouncing ideas off each other and pushing each other to be better.
You mention the bouncing off ideas. What are something of the things you've learned playing behind Drew that's helped you and also vice versa, is there a lot of stuff that you've been able to share with Drew that helped him whether it's on the field or off the field?
Well, I don't know. It would probably take entirely too long to try to point out one or two specific things. I know this that I don't think anybody processes information like Drew does, certainly in the course of a game but even in the course of a week of preparation so being able to watch him in his mastery of preparation and kind of thinking the ins and outs of game plan and dissecting it all, has really been something that I, like I said, enjoy being part of and getting to know kind of how he does that. On top of that, the thorough thinker that he is in not just football but business and he has obviously several different ventures outside of football and one of which has led my wife and I to step into and that's Jimmy John's. To see him and how intricately involved he is in that as a leader, there's a lot to gleam from that and that's been a unique experience for us.
Wow, that's really cool. Good stuff there. Luke, not only were you dealing with free agency this off season but you're also recovering from back surgery as well. How is the rehab process going and how are you feeling right now?
Yeah, I'm feeling great. I'm fully cleared and there's been no residual effects of the surgery. It's been really an easy process to kind of go through, it's just mainly regaining core strength and getting back to normal daily activities. Now, I've been back to those for well over a month, really almost two months now. I had a great exit meeting with my surgeon, Drew Dossett, and he did a fantastic job and he described my healing process as freaky in a good way. Any time you kind of get that part of it, it makes you feel good about where you are and your future ahead as it pertains to athletics.
So what's the next step for you? I know you say you're talking about you know, rehabbing, core, kind of getting back in the game shape, is there anything else that you need to or trying to work on this offseason, not only to rehab your back but kind of just work on your game in general?
No, I mean not anything specific, not anything really more than what I've done over the previous years of my career. It's really maintaining a good conditioning schedule, strengthening obviously when you're 341/2 years old and you're trying to hang on to the strength that you have, so it's remaining strong, remaining really flexibility is a big key. I guess if you want to say something that I've tried to focus on here over the last couple of months, it's really been flexibility and kind of maintaining that part of or getting better at that part of the things that go along with throwing a football and strengthening your body and maintaining the core strength. You sometimes forget about the need to remain flexible so that's been a big part of it.
I want to switch gears a little bit Luke because I haven't really talked to you since I saw a lot of commercials with you from Verizon on the television during the NFL season. One, was that your first commercial ever doing and kind of what was that process like? How did Verizon approach you for this?
Yeah, that was really fun, fun deal. It really worked out well being that the script they had written up had to obviously involve the backup generators that they have on their towers and so it just really kind of worked out that Drew being one of their national spokespeople, that I was the backup. They contacted the marketing department of the agency that represents me and said, "hey, would he be interested is this? I think it would be really neat play on the whole backup quarterback deal," and really that's how it came to be and that's how it worked out. They were fantastic to work with and like I said it was a very fun process for us.
Was it an easy decision for you to say yes to or were you kind of worried since maybe you haven't done something like this before?
Oh no, it was a very easy decision to say yes to. I mean it's not every day you get, especially as a backup, you get a national commercial pitch and so it really worked out good.
I thought the concept was really good like you mentioned about the backup generators, being the backup quarterback. I think in some ways it's still an unfair stereotype about the backup quarterback. Do you still think there is a stereotype about the quarterbacks? I don't think people realize how much there is as far as a backup quarterback, how much goes into preparation in the offseason and during the season.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean it's probably the most unique position in sports just because you don't get the work and you don't get the physical reps that you may need really be honed in or prepared to play. It takes a very mentally tough person to be able to play the role of a backup. You know, we're all aspiring starters and not everyone gets that opportunity. It takes a very confident person that knows how to step in and play confidently but at the same time is so confident in their abilities that they're able to move from that aspect of it and be a helper, and a teacher, and a motivator and like I said, an extra pair of eyes and a rubber band to bounce things off of. It really is, it's a unique position. It's not for everybody, not the easiest in the world but it's a position that I take pride in. In trying to push Drew and push my teammates to be better.
Is that kind of some of the advice also that you'd give Garrett Grayson?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean listen, you have to a spot mentally, a place where it doesn't matter that you're not getting the reps. You have to be able to play the game in your mind and feel comfortable with that. Again, there's a lot of discipline goes into that, a lot of long hours and work that sometimes you don't get to see the fruit of but it's a place that you have to be able to take your mind to in order to be prepared and to be ready. Really if you're not one of those first rounders or one of those guys that plays at a high level for a long time, then you don't know when your opportunity is going to come and it may never come. You have to be physically prepared to prove yourself every time you step on the field if you want to last in the league.
Photos of QB Luke McCown over the years. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints Photos).