New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Video Conference With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
You and Tom Brady both used to make headlines because you would say things like I want to play till I'm 45 and it used to seem like a wild idea. How cool is it to be in a game like this. It's going to be the first time two 40 year olds have ever started a football game and you guys are both still playing at a high level?
"It makes me remember back to 1999 when we played against each other in college. The (Purdue) Boilermakers traveled up to the Big House (Michigan Stadium). Unfortunately, that one didn't end too well for us, but I think, little did we know, we would have the opportunities that we've had in the NFL. I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say that, I think we both pinch ourselves, the blessing and the opportunity to be able to play this long, play for so many great teams and with so many great players."
And how much more do you want to make sure you come out on top on this one now that he's actually a division rival?
"Yeah, listen, I've got a ton of respect for Tom (Brady) and all that he's accomplished in his career. I know I'm sure he's pretty rejuvenated, being down there and having the opportunity with a new team. And obviously, he's got a great team around him. A lot of great skill position players and a really good defense as well. So, man, they're in the division now. We're both fighting for the same thing."
I'm writing a story on your former teammate, Teddy Bridgewater. And he specifically spoke about his journey and being a starter, first time starting the opener in five years. And he specifically talked about coming in relief of you and struggling that first game against the Rams when you got injured, and he felt like he was trying too much to be like you. And he had to kind of learn to be like himself and that helped him. Do you remember any conversations you have with him during that time, when he started to get on a roll? And what do you think about where he is today?
"Yeah. First off, I'm so happy for Teddy (Bridgewater) when you look at his journey, obviously with his injury in Minnesota, when he had really established himself as the starter and a leader on that team and really, a great player. They had kind of gotten that team into a position where they were ready to make a run and then tragically, he suffers that knee injury that sidelines him for a while. So I know psychologically coming off an injury like that, there's always kind of that, that psychological barrier as much as there is the physical barrier. When he came down here, I think the thing that you realize right away is Teddy (Bridgewater) is a highly intelligent guy who loves the game of football. And he has a presence about him and an ability to lead guys. Guys respond to him, guys follow him and I think each quarterback has their own style. So I think coming into this offense, where this offense has been one that has been evolving over the last 15 years now. Sean (Payton) came here in 2006. He brought me in as one of his first free agent guys, and ever since then we've just been building this offense and evolving each and every year. And so for somebody to come in and all of a sudden have to grasp the wealth of information in this offense is, is difficult. But man, I thought Teddy was so steady, while he was here and it was weird for me when I got injured. Because first of all, that was the first time I'd ever gotten injured to where I would be missing any type of significant time in my entire career. And for the first part of that I was actually away from the team for like a week, getting surgery and couldn't travel and all that stuff. So when I got back, it was kind of like I think I was there at that point to support Teddy (Bridgewater) in whatever way I could. So the roles reversed there for a period of time, So I wanted to support him, I wanted to do whatever (I could to help). I can remember a couple of moments in practice where we would be installing a new concept and maybe the receivers didn't run it quite the way we had talked about in the quarterback meeting. And so I would look at Teddy and be like, hey, I will talk to Mike (Thomas), you go talk to Jared (Cook). And so, we were a tag team, just to get guys on the same page to teach them how we would see it right, as QBs. We still had to be very much on the same page, so that I can make sure I was coaching the way that he saw that he wanted it because he was in there as the starter at that time. So man, always a team effort, the one and two quarterback and I tried to support him as much as I could during that time just like he always supported me, when the rules were reversed. And at the end of the day, when you're the guy in there, you have to be you. And I felt like Teddy was himself and Teddy won ballgames and Teddy was a great teammate, and I wish him all the best, except when he plays us."
You mentioned the evolution of the offense over these years. But how has it remained cutting edge through the trial and error process? Teams and players and offenses and systems get stale. How has this one stayed cutting edge?
"Well, we know we have to stay ahead of the curve. I think each offseason, you're studying a lot of things about a lot of teams. There's always a couple offenses that maybe (we) had a lot of success with a certain scheme the year before. So, you're going to go watch those teams and say, hey, what made that so good? And are there ways that we can incorporate that into what we're doing? And sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. But I think what we also know is that typically, we're one of those offenses that people are studying, both offenses and defenses and so, we have to continue to evolve. So that we can just broaden the scope of what we're capable of doing, and give defenses more things to worry about. There's always your bread and butter, but then again, there's always nuances that you want to build in there so that people can't always anticipate your bread and butter."
You've played five games in the pros against (Tom) Brady, and the one that you had in college as you talked about before, is there a memory that you shared with Tom either after one of those games that stands out to you now?
"I mean, not really. I mean, other than, you know, when I was with the Chargers when I played against him twice and now it's been three times,(with the Saints after this game). I know this, there's a mindset that you have to, be near perfect. Nobody's ever going to be perfect. But there's such a great sense of urgency to maximize each and every opportunity because that's what he's doing on the other side of the ball."
To any extent do you see this game as one that showcases you and Tom as kind of like pioneers in terms of your approach to fitness and longevity? The league has been around 100 years and it's never happened before. Obviously it'll happen again because you're in the same division but how do you see that?
"Well, that's part of the evolution of the game, too, science, and I think everyone's approach. I think every NFL team's approach to how you're training, how you're recovering, how you're caring for players, how we're training in the offseason, all those things have been in evolution as well. And I think we're armed and equipped with a lot more information now than we ever have been. And so the ability to incorporate those things into what we do from a training and recovery perspective I think, allows us to stay in our prime longer. I've always used the term 'prolong your prime'. At the end of the day, that's what we're trying to do. Time is going to get us at some point, but we're trying to beat him out right now."
Not sure if you've covered this before elsewhere, but I'm just curious for your take on the piped in crowd noise in the Superdome and how you think it compares to what the dome can really get like on a gameday?
"I think what they're allowing is quite a bit less than what the dome would be capable of getting up to. I think at the end of the day, it's trying to provide some sort of maybe white noise or just a little bit of buzz, like there would typically be in any stadium that you go to, whether you're on offense or defense, so it is not so dead silent, but you could hear a pin drop or you hear every single word or signal or what have you that is being said."
Yesterday Brett Farve kind of talked about how getting so close to a Super Bowl can take its toll on a quarterback. How much has that taken a toll on you the past two years? And how much has that fueled you to come back again?
"Hey, this time, man, I'm on borrowed time, I got nothing to lose. So I'm turning it loose and letting the chips fall where they may. I know that everything happens for a reason. And in most cases, failure is the best teacher. That's the approach I've always taken. That's the approach this team has taken. And I feel like we found a way to garner strength from each one of these moments from over the last few years. And it's only made us better. And it's only brought us closer to the ultimate cross."