New Orleans Saints Punter Thomas Morstead
Microsoft Teams Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
I'm curious if you've decided to live in the hotel over the next month and weighing that decision for you?
"Yeah, so I am going to get (stay) in the hotel. I am not going 100 percent there every single night. There'll be some times where I need to get home or need to help out, but I'm going to try and stay at the hotel as often as possible."
As a representative of the NFLPA, what are your thoughts on what the league has done to sort of meet what the players wanted?
"Well, when you say what the players want, there's a lot of players so there's a lot of different wants. It's always a complicated deal. It's been a huge learning lesson for me the last two years with the new CBA negotiation that happened leading up to our deal in March and thinking we were done for a while and COVID hitting immediately and going through that process. Look, I'm personally thrilled with where we ended up. I know there are always going to be people that don't agree with what the end result is. For players that want to opt out, they have that right. We've tried to provide the ability for someone to do that if they feel like that is the right decision for them and that family, but also at the same time, I think it is important that players don't knock other players that decide they want to play, they want to take on the risk. We are all professionals here and so I think it's important to (know) we did the very best we could to provide as healthy, as safe environment to work as possible, t least as far as the minimum standard for that. Then there's obviously teams, if they decide, (that) can go above and beyond that. Obviously, Mrs. B's agreed to put up our whole team and even more staff up in a hotel for the entirety of camp. We're obviously grateful for that as well. I'm happy with where we ended up (in financial adjustment agreement due to pandemic). I think the potential drop in cap for next year and being able to set the floor at 175 (million dollars) for next year's cap is a big thing and being able to roll that over four years, the losses, I think that was huge. We didn't want to negatively impact one group of players over the other. So I think getting it spread out over four years was a win, and kind of, I guess, helped spread the equity of the loss across the group."
Just as the father of school-aged children, what's your biggest concern off the field in regards to keeping your family safe and do you feel like you have to look at this Fall as kind of a second self-quarantine period?
"Look, there's a lot of questions that have still yet to be answered. I view this whole situation as just like it's just the most layered onion ever, right? There's so many layers to it. And so there's certain things we haven't even gotten to yet, right? My kids aren't in school yet. We're supposed to be having a meeting with teachers this week, to kind of figure out what's happening? What are the details? Coach (Sean Payton) did a great job the other day in our team meeting just talking about would you treat now any different than if it was Week 17 and we had a chance to lock up the one seed. How would you view that in your mind as far as your behaviors? Would you be willing to miss the NFC Championship game or the Super Bowl because you were out taking any sort of chance to get COVID and you just have to be forced to miss the game. Things like that, I think really put things into perspective for us as players. Look, there's so many things that we're, at least my wife and I, are having conversations about and I'm sure other players with kids are having conversations about, it's most important. We just don't have all the information, especially me for my school week with my kids, we have not even gotten that information yet. I think the kids' side is the toughest, because so many kids that are able to transmit it, you don't even know they have it. That's what's the scary part is if there's more likelihood of no symptoms, it's a harder thing to manage. So we will have to wait and see and we don't know there's going to be a combo of virtual or if it is all virtual to start. I know some of it has to do with how the state's doing and what the governor ends up deciding. So we are just going to have to keep reacting as new information comes along."
Are you confident the NFL can pull this off and start the season on time as it's scheduled right now?
"That's above my paygrade. All I know is that we've done everything we can to provide as safe a working environment as possible. I don't think anybody's under the delusion that people aren't going to get COVID. The idea with the testing is that we're hopefully going to catch it before guys have a chance to spread it. I know people have kind of put a negative light on where the NFL is heading with what's happened with some baseball. I don't know all the baseball's rules, but I know some of the things that happen with decision making aren't up to us, right? It's a third party, there's a test, if you test positive, you're out, right? You're out of the inclusion with the team. That is yet to be seen, right? I think there's always, as things change, as there's more information that becomes available, or we see how this even (plays out), we've got 40 days until our first game so there's a lot of time to see how this works. I don't know what there'll be, but I'm sure there will be changes as the season goes on, or as training camp goes on, as we kind of see the results of testing and what's happening. That's (where) we're lucky, we get this big, drawn out period to do this before we even start a game. I'm sure there'll be little tweaks and changes as it goes along, but I know everybody's got skin in the game, it's a business. Apart from that, I think we have an opportunity to provide a little (entertainment), we're in the entertainment business, we have an opportunity to provide a little bit of reprieve from the stressful environment that we're in right now when it comes to all the things that are going on in the world. I think we're excited to hopefully provide that for our city and our region."
This might be more of a kicker question than a punter question, but I'm just curious if like the atmosphere for you guys, the fans and everything ever creates nerves and if taking them out would maybe change anything about kicking or their punting and possibly lead to better efficiency since you guys wouldn't be nervous maybe?
"Well, it depends on what your nerves do for you. If you are a guy that needs your nerves to play well, you may have guys that don't do as well because they need that sort of (adrenaline). Some guys need that, some guys are looking to relax more and they don't like it. We've got plenty of nerves when I'm sitting right here on the field and Coach (Sean) Payton is standing two feet behind me breathing down my neck. That is quite a bit of pressure when there's no crowd noise or anything like that. Look, I'm sure there will be some players that do better than they have and I'm sure there'll be some players that do worse than they have. Because you won't know what makes guys tick and what kind of elevates or doesn't elevate player's performances until we get into that moment, but I'm sure we'll see some guys have some seasons that they haven't had in the good and the bad ways."
Obviously you had a hand in working with the new Coronavirus protocols, but now that you have been in the facility for a couple days, what has been an adjustment, a tough one from just being there and having it be so different than it normally is?
"I don't know that there has been a tough adjustment. I think the tough adjustment is in all the staff, it's all of the trainers. In order to get X, Y or Z done, everything's less efficient or it's not as good of a product or whatever. There are just pieces to it that make everything a little more difficult or you have to go through a little longer process to set up. I think for us, it's just wear the mask and socially distance yourself when you're able to do that. I don't sense my day has gotten more strenuous or tougher to do. I still can do everything I need to do. Be mindful of a few things, but it's really, I'd say that the burden is on the staff and the people that are assisting us and so we're really appreciative of that."
This question is probably just a little bit off the wall, but just given the fact that you're one of the veterans in the locker room, outside of (Drew) Brees, who has been with this team for so long, do you still have the desire every offseason where you want to come back at this point? Have you even stepped back and even taken a thought that maybe I'm near the end of my career, and maybe when you get to the offseason, that's something that you're thinking about? I'm not trying to date you or anything like that. I'm just curious if you still have that same energy and juice going into every season.
"I have got plenty of grays that are dating me so I am not worried about any words. Look, number one, you said am I concerned that I am towards the end of my career, and the answer's yes because I love doing this. I don't want to do anything else. I love the training (and) running, the grind of the workouts and as you get older, some of those things get harder. I have no intention of this being close to the end of my career. I don't look too far ahead. I know it's super cliché, I've been really fortunate to be around Drew and just watch him persevere and get better with age. It doesn't mean that every piece of you gets better obviously, maybe at some point you don't kick it as high or as far, but maybe your mechanics get more efficient, you become more consistent, you become more dependable. You become more accountable to the team and a better leader as far as how you mentor young players and helping them figure out what Coach just told him to do in the meeting. I remember feeling like that can be a blur for young players. At the end of the day, the answer to your question is, I love doing this job. I never thought I would, I was a walk on, no stars, I had to come back the second year at school and try out again first day of school. So like, I just wanted to have a chance to play on a Saturday, and to be sitting here and have been a part of such an amazing experience and then the call New Orleans my home, regardless of what happens moving forward in my career, it's been awesome. I'm definitely afraid. I don't know if afraid is the right word, but I feel like I'm more focused than ever, because I have a lot to lose. I don't want to be anywhere else. I know if at some point it ended here, I think I'd have an opportunity obviously to go play elsewhere. I don't want to do that. I want to be here. That all factors in and all I'm going to do is continue to try to find ways to add value to the team on and off the field and I'm just constantly pressing myself to do that. I feel young, I just got a good workout in so I'm good."
Your numbers are really good. Going on year 12, I just always wonder.
"It is. Look, there's no doubt there are certain aspects that get a little more challenging every year, but man, experience is a major thing and that's another cliché thing that you hear people say or talk about, but it's legitimate, right? It's kind of like money in the bank that's gaining interest in compounding every year. That same analogy for expertise as you gain experience and there's almost no situation you could ever be in that you haven't either been through or plotted or planned for. So just never being caught off guard and always being prepared, really serves someone like me well."