New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
You mentioned you had to somewhat suppress some ego going into this decision. Do you feel like that's something you needed at this point in your career to have a, I guess an ego check?
"No, I don't think I ever said anything about an ego check. I think I mentioned humility and one thing about humility is everyone needs to be humble. Everyone needs those humble experiences. Throughout my entire life, I started from very humble beginnings. It's definitely another chapter of my life that I'm going to learn from it and it's going to make me better."
What made the Saints a good fit for you?
"Well, we have a Hall of Fame quarterback (Drew Brees) and a future Hall of Fame coach (Sean Payton). That is very intriguing for a young quarterback like myself. And also I've been playing against this defense for the past five years and they continue to get better and be dominant. This is a Super Bowl contending team and I'm just happy to be a part of that."
Who did you speak with about the decision to sign with the New Orleans Saints? Was it a hard decision? Was it an easy decision? Was it your agent, your family, a little bit of everybody? Obviously there were reports that you had more lucrative offers, but this you felt like was the best situation for you.
"Yeah, it was a little bit of everybody during this time. I've gotten married, I've had numerous conversations. I'm doing a lot of different things. A lot of people are going through a lot, but I think all the wisdom and guidance I got from others kind of helped me with this decision. It really was easy in terms of knowing the quarterback room that I was going to be in. Understanding that I love this game with all my heart. So despite a lot of different things that come with this game, like money and celebrity status, I think one thing that Derrick Brooks taught me through my time with him from Florida State to now is you've got to respect the game and the game will always be bigger than you and the game will always win. In my experience of being a football player, a professional football player, the game has won. So I just wanted to honor that and be a part of this organization, being in a quarterback room as prestigious as the one that we have now, be the best football player I can be and be the best teammate I possibly can be."
Have you had any prior relationships with Drew (Brees)? What's that relationship like now?
"Yeah, there are only a few people in this league that actually follow up with you when you ask them a question, when you reach out to them. The first time I met Drew was in 2006. I was the first kid to get his autograph, but I met Drew pre-draft back in San Diego. I think that's his home base. We got a chance to talk actually at the Rock Church with Miles McPherson in San Diego. Ever since then he's always been a guy that I can hit up during the season, and ask the question and he'll get back with me. I just love the person that he is and the guy he is and I'm so excited to learn from him and help serve him in any way."
What do you feel like you need to get done so next year when you're back on the market, you're competing for that starting job? Obviously you didn't come here for the money. You came here to so accomplish something, what's that?
"What I need to get done is I need to be a great teammate, I need to serve our team and I need to be competing every day. One thing I do take pride in is being competitive. I'm going to do my best to be the best football player I can be. This sport, even though I'm coming to New Orleans, I still love this game of football, right? And we're going to play a lot of football in New Orleans and we're going to win a lot of games."
Are there any specific aspects of your game that like, hey, I need to do this better or this better? Are there certain things that you're coming here specifically that you want to work on?
"Yeah, every year I have a different set of goals and set of things that I want to get better at. But one thing that I'm really excited to learn, the most exciting thing is just the way that this quarterback room functions. What's Coach Payton's approach to every week, what's Drew's approach to this week, what is Taysom (Hill) doing in the room that I can add to my game? Just trying to find different things by serving this team and learning from everybody I can. Even from Doug (Miller) and the media and just trying to learn as much as I can to be the best I can be."
Did you have other offers from teams and did you have options for more money and possibly even to compete for a starting job?
"Yes, I did, but I'm a New Orleans Saint and that's what my focus is. I think this was definitely one of the best opportunities for me to grow as a quarterback and as a professional in this league. I'm going to do my best to take full advantage of this opportunity that was presented to me."
Have you ever had a situation before where maybe you were the student? You have kind of been the guy for a long time, haven't you? When was the last time you walked into a situation where you clearly knew you were sort of learning from someone else?
"Every day I am learning from someone else. This is not going to be relatively new. The only thing that's going to be new is that I'm not the guy, but to myself, I'm still the guy and I'm going to approach every day like I'm the guy. And I think that's what that quarterback room breaths of. When you see what happened last year with the amount of playtime with Taysom (Hill) and Teddy (Bridgewater) got, I'm not saying that I'm going to expect that this year, but those guys were prepared and that's what I'm going to be. I'm going to be prepared for whatever. Being a quarterback, you have to be a student of the game. So now I actually get a chance to dive into that more and I actually have a Hall of Fame quarterback that I'm learning from as opposed to trying to learn by myself or use Google."
What did (Teddy) Bridgewater's experience here in New Orleans over two years have to do with you and your decision and did you talk to Teddy?
"Yeah, I talked to Teddy and I was really just talking to him because I'm so happy for the opportunity that he has in Carolina and the chance we get to compete against him twice a year. But I talked to him and he really loved the quarterback room. I think that that was one of the big things, just how they were in that quarterback room and in the things that he was able to learn and apply to his game to make him a better leader and a better quarterback."
Where is the Drew Brees autograph now?
"You know what, I lost that Drew Brees autograph. It was a Hover books football picture that he autographed for me. I have a wallet, one of those big fat wallets that people don't have anymore and I lost it. I think I lost on the bus. It didn't have any money in there, so nobodies getting rich, but they have my picture."
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but when you kind of got that question about setting yourself up for your next offer, I think people always assume that that's outside of the Saints building. Is there any possibility in your conversations with Sean Payton that that next opportunity, depending on what happens with Brees could be in the Saints building?
"Yeah, I'm focusing on the primary opportunity. The primary opportunity is getting the chance to work with Drew Brees, Sean Payton, Taysom Hill, Tommy Stevens, Coach (Joe) Lombardi, Coach (Pete) Carmichael and Coach (D.J.) Williams. That is my opportunity, right? That's the biggest, most important opportunity that I have right now. I'm definitely not looking forward, looking ahead, right? I'm focused on this, what I have right now and we'll be able to have that conversation next year or years down the road. Who knows? We don't know. I didn't think that I was going to be in this position this time last year, but God has a different plan and I'm excited for the plan that he has for me moving forward."
You mentioned that there were some other offers and other opportunities for you. Was this a situation that you pursued and can you kind of just tell us maybe how the offer came together and how you came to be here?
"Well, I think anybody, being a starting quarterback in this league, they want to have the opportunity to compete and be the starting quarterback in this league. But when you really think about the progression of a football player, when you have the opportunity to be in the same division, to work with a coach who is as successful and as smart as Sean Payton and work with a quarterback who will be, whenever he decides to retire, he's going to probably get escorted to the Hall of Fame, I don't think you really can beat that regardless of what it is, especially if you believe in yourself. If you believe in the ability that you have, if you believe in, really if you have faith, that you will become a starting quarterback again, you take this opportunity in a heartbeat to work with this amazing group of men."
Do you draw inspiration from the situation that Ryan Tannehill was in last season with the Titans after being a high draft pick and the starter in Miami?
"Yes I do. I do draw inspiration from that. It shows his resilience. It shows the other quarterback's ability to put things behind and press forward. I was watching the movie "Onward" with my son the other day and that's just an amazing word, onward and that's what I'm doing. I'm pressing onward and like I said, I'm going to do my best to be the best quarterback I can be for this organization and help serve my teammates."
When you talk about the things you need to improve, obviously everybody points to the turnovers. Is that number one in your mind or is that something you're almost unapologetic for and that you're willing to take some risks?
"Yeah, ball security is the primary part of our position, but also getting the ball to our guys and getting the ball in their hands so they can make some plays is another important piece. I'm going to address every part of my game, not just one part because my goal is to be a perfectionist. My goal is to work and actually apply the work, so we can get results and that's what I'm focused on."
What are some examples of how your vision has improved since having LASIK surgery this offseason?
"No blurriness and I think that's huge. (My) Depth perception has increased tremendously and those are the big things. I didn't have bad eyes, I just had astigmatism. I had certain things that they had to fix to increase the precision and the sharpness of my vision. That's the biggest thing, I could say this, when you ride in the car and say you get in an accident, but you can't read the license plate of the person who you just hit. But they just ran off because they didn't have insurance, right. Stuff like that, like I can read license plates, I can read street signs. I think the precision in the vision is the biggest difference."
Are you fully healthy with the knee surgery you had after the season, is that already recovered or is there a timetable on that?
"Yeah, it was a scope, man. You got to check out my IG (Instagram) and see me working out, bro. You have to follow me. Follow me on IG."
Was there a change in your workout and diet this offseason?
"Well, I'm going to tell y'all a funny story and don't get too comfortable with this because y'all are all new to me. The place that I had my surgery at was in Birmingham, Alabama and I got a chance to work with a physical therapist that Drew (Brees) is very familiar with, Kevin Wilk, this is actually the same place that I met Drew and I got his autograph for the first time and working with him, I think Kevin really inspired me to just focus on being as healthy as I possibly can and Dr. (Jeffrey) Dugas who performed the surgery, I've known him since I was 12 years old. He just said, hey man, we want you to get as healthy as possible and this is a great time to work on your body, work on getting everything else up underneath you because you had to stay up (living with the injury) for three years and now it's time to just heal up your whole body, eat great food. I decided to go vegan. I've been vegan for the past three months, four months and it's just changed my body, drastically. I do cheat every Saturday. I mean, some chicken, or something, I can't be super vegan or I'd be like 210 pounds, but I think those two individuals, Dr. Dugas and Kevin Wilk, really inspire me to just use this time, recovering from my knee and focus on my body, focus on how I can be the best athlete, the best quarterback I possibly can be."
How glad will you be that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd will be cheering for you instead of screaming at you and what was it like playing with like how crazy can it get?
"Man, I'm so happy because the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome gets rocking and just being from Alabama, being a Southern kid, football is really, really important. Like if you don't like football in Alabama, they probably send you back with the stork that dropped you off (laughter). But, we love football and New Orleans fans, they love football. And the funny thing is my wife's entire family is from Louisiana and the New Orleans area. She's just so happy and once you have a happy wife, you have a happy life, so that's pretty big."
Is it kind of weird to think of you playing for a division rival or a former division rival and has anyone reached out from the Saints?
"When you think about the NFL, other than the competitive side, we're all one big family. I've seen Demario Davis, I've seen Cam Jordan. I've seen numerous New Orleans Saints players at this year's PAO (Pro Athletes Outreach) Christian Athletic Conference, that they host every year. I'm great friends with those guys, but it's different when you're competing on the opposite side, but as a teammate you have an opportunity to serve those guys and you're competing with them and not against them. I think we're all one big happy family and I know we're going to be more excited that we're competing together than against each other."
Do you think most fans have a good sense of the person you are?
"I don't know. I can't really answer that question, but that's the one thing that I've been just trying to do this off season is trying to let the fans know who I am. Trying to be more interactive via social media and let them see me. I think the platform I have, I really use it more for kids. When you get around the kids, yeah, you can donate money. Yeah, you can do this and that. But what kids really love is time and I think that's what I decided to do for my fans, the good ones and the haters is just give them time. Spent some time with them by showing them what I do, showing them what I'm about and then they can make their remarks after that."
Could you maybe just elaborate on how much you think you have grown and matured as a person since college?
"Well, it all starts with my faith walk and I know I've grown closer to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, tremendously and that's what really just leads the pack. (I'm) Just living for God's glory and not for the approval of the man, or of anyone else. My main focus is to serve my lord and savior to the best of my ability. I know I've grown and matured and then also I'm a father. Being a father to a 1-year-old that looks just like you and you're having to make an imprint his life, teaching him and showing him how to have high character and how to act when no one is looking and I have a wife that I have to love and cherish and I plan on doing that. One thing that my trainer always talks about, being a better man can make you a better football player, but being a better football player will not make you a better man. I think I really am learning and mastering this. It's an everyday thing. No one's perfect, but, I do believe that being a better man has made me a better football player."
How rare is it to have a quarterback like Drew Brees who is willing to take you under his wing and give you advice and knowledge of the game?
"It's who he is, it's his essence. When you're who you are you can't really avoid that and that's just the person that he is, a God fearing, courageous, high character, elite quarterback, Super Bowl winning quarterback, MVP, future Hall of Famer, a father, a husband, great teammate, Drew Brees, that's him."
What number do you want to be in New Orleans?
"I want number two, honestly, that's the number now that I want. Hey, I want number two, and I think that's the number I'm going to get, hopefully."
Is there a reason behind the number two for you?
"Yeah, that's my favorite number. I couldn't get the number two at Florida State because of Deion Sanders. I couldn't get number two in high school because one of my receivers named Brandon Spain (had it) and now I can if it's available."
"Thank you guys, man. Thank you for being available. Thank you for accepting me. I look forward to our relationships together and appreciate y'all. Thank you."