New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
2019 Training Camp Presented by Verizon
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Post Practice Media Availability
How great was it to have Michael Thomas back?
“Everybody's going to ask the same question first. Michael Thomas, he is back. It is awesome, great to have him back. I knew it was only a matter of time. I think the timing is good, getting back in the fold. We're still at the beginning I think of our install for the most part so he came in today as if he's been here the whole time and so all good.”
Did you text him or did he text you and saying, Hey, I'm coming in?
“Yes, I've been texting him, just checking on him and seeing how things are going and I knew things were close, so (I’m) glad that it got done.”
Coach (Payton) complimented his practice habits and what he brings to the table. Does he help elevate other guys too?
“Yes, I think so. I think there’s definitely a presence and attitude, a swagger to what he brings to the field. You know when he is out there, there is no half-speed rep. Everything is a thousand miles an hour, Mach three with your hair on fire with Mike. I think everybody else elevates their game to that. I think he makes the guys he is going up against better, the DBs. I think it is just that heightened level. Our team periods are competitive anyway, right? We are out here to make each other better. We are out here to just (use) that adage, iron sharpens iron. That is truly the way we feel about these training camp practices. I am trying to beat our defense every day, right? And I expect them to try to do the same to me. It is only making me better. It is only making them better. And at the end of the day, we're all on the same team, but if we can go into the regular season feeling like we've been playing against the best of the best for the last six weeks, then I think that puts us a step ahead.”
You all said you understood why he was sitting out, but, is there an appreciation that he got it done pretty quick and he's back here?
“Yes, absolutely. Again, you know that this is part of the business at times and you hope that it doesn't drag out too long. We want to have all the guys here, all the members of the team, we want the whole band. Right? The more work that we can all get together I think the better off we are.”
Now that you are in this mode where you're back pushing that boulder up the hill, how can you tell a difference than an influence like the way last season ended has and coming that close on the mindset of a team starting over again the next year?
“Training Camp’s Training Camp. You really just try to put it into a bunch of one day segments. Every day is a new installation to a degree, right? The defense is continuing to add more. The offense is continuing to add more, but it's almost like going back to square one for every installation. And I go back and I look at the same plays and I try to approach it as if I'm seeing it for the first time and okay, let's just go back to square one. How am I reading this play and what if this happens? It changes the mindset a little bit. You go back and literally start from scratch with just about everything and just kind of rebuild the foundation by which we're going to continue to evolve and add as the year goes on. Just like we always do.”
So any hangover effect would've been February, March, April. You don't believe that carries over into August, September?
“You can't, you can't let it happen. As angry as we all were, as frustrated as we all were. It’s not like you just totally forget that. I think there's defining moments from your career. I certainly know I've had my fair share that I can reflect back on and still sting a little bit and still burn a little bit and still motivate, still inspired as part of what keeps you going.”
I’m fascinated what your relationship with Zion (Williamson). You had the passing of the torch when he got drafted. You talked about him in your ESPY speech. You're 40, he's 19 years old. How did it all come about and you seem to have really kind of taken him under your wing?
“First of all, let's take a step back. Zion has not played a game yet, right? He has not stepped foot on the court yet for the Pelicans during a regular season game. So as much excitement as there is and I think at the end of the day, for me as being a guy who knows what it is like to come to a city and feeling like, man, it is kind of starting from scratch and building something from the ground up. That's the way we felt when we came here in ‘06 with Sean Payton and all the guys that came in that year and here we are 14 years later and we are able to look at all that we have accomplished and how we are still trying to climb and get better. I think we’re at that point with the Pelicans in a lot of ways where we’ve (had) a lot of turnover, right? You acquire a guy like him and Jaxson Hayes and the big trade with AD (Anthony Davis) getting guys from the Lakers and picks. I think you take that and you add it to a guy like Jrue Holiday, who in my opinion is the real leader of this team right now on the Pelicans side and the guy that with him and then you are taking some of these talented young players that you are trying to add pieces to the puzzle. I think for me, it is allowing these young guys to see the opportunity that they have here in New Orleans. This is incredible fan base, this is an incredible city that is ready to embrace them, but there is a right way to do it, right? It is not like you just snap your fingers and it happens, man. It takes work. It takes hard work. It takes dedication and there’s going to be some bumps in the road. I think we're all in this honeymoon phase a little bit where we're all excited, but at some point you’ve got to get to work and you’ve got to put your nose to the grindstone and just focus on getting a little bit better every day and then going out and taking what you’ve been doing in practice and in the offseason and putting that to work in the season.”
With the ESPY’s, how did it work that your sons and Zion (Williamson) had the exact same tuxedo
“That was just by chance, honestly. First of all, when I signed the Jersey to Zion, I did not know that was going to be for public consumption. I did not know that that was going to show up on Instagram and videos and all this other stuff. And that was just my personal statement to him, just welcoming him to the city and letting him know that I want to be there for him as a resource in whatever I can do. I feel that way about every rookie that walks in the door here to. Whatever I can do, just because of the way I feel about this city and these organizations from the ownership down. But, that was the first time we had met Zion. Did not know that I was going to see him. It was literally right when we walk out of the hotel to jump in our car to go to the red carpet. My boys are there with the maroon tuxedo jackets with the black lapel and out walks Zion same outfit. So it this like this is meant to be. It was awesome. And then right by right by him walks Bill Russell. It was pretty cool because it was like one of obviously the most legendary players in the history of the game and also when it comes to just what he was able to do off the field in regards to social justice causes and various things. So for me, looking at Bill Russell as this is one of the fixtures of professional sports period, right? And then seeing kind of the next generation there at the same time. I don't know. That's the part of me that really loves the ESPY’s. I'm sitting there in my seat and I'm looking at Bill Russell and I'm looking at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and I'm looking at Dr. J (Julius Erving) and so forget football for a second. I'm in awe of the guys that have just paved the way for all of us as athletes in general.”
Do you feel like you would regularly maybe check in on Zion (Williamson) during the season since it's convenient?
“I'll check in on all those guys. Listen, he's in a tough spot because obviously there are a ton of expectations, right? Comes in as the number one pick you know what type of athletic ability he has and the excitement around that. By all accounts we’ve got a pretty young team, right? Certainly, I am always going to be there for Zion (Williamson). Whatever I can do to help guide, to help advise, to help mentor. I'm there. If he wants to go one on one, I'll do that too. Listen, I think there's a kinship regardless of the generational gap, right? There's a kinship because I'm in a different sport and yet I understand the pressures, right? I can be there as a resource for him or any of those guys, I'm happy to take on that responsibility.”
Photos from New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon on August 1, 2019.