Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drew Brees not feeling pressure of $100M deal

METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees might be the highest paid house husband in the world.

Seconds after agreeing to terms on a five-year, $100 million contract to become the richest man in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints quarterback had to drop back and take care of business.
"The minute I got off the phone, I changed Bowen's poopy diaper," Brees said Tuesday in his first press conference after the Saints reported for training camp. "I then went downstairs, and I did a load of whites in the washer. And then I went upstairs and put Baylen's lunch away in the refrigerator. So nothing changed." Except for baby Bowen Brees' wardrobe.

"Didn't jump up and down. Didn't do anything," said Brees, who will receive a record $40 million in guaranteed money this season and a record $60 million of guaranteed money over the first three years of the deal.
"Was I excited it was done? Was it a relief? Yes," he said. "But other than that, I had the same mindset every day. I was preparing as if I was here, or as if I was getting ready to go to work at any moment."
That moment is Wednesday when the Saints practice with Brees for the first time since January. New Orleans opens the preseason Aug. 5 against Arizona in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, and starts the regular season Sept. 9 against Washington.

The most painful offseason in Saints history, which included the bounty scandal that resulted in head coach Sean Payton and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma getting suspended for a year, in addition to Brees' contract holdout, is almost behind them.
"It's not pressure," Brees said about his contract. "It's a sense of responsibility. I'm careful not to put that extra pressure on myself. There might be plenty of reasons where there would be easy to do given all the circumstances -- Sean not being here, me not being here during the offseason, the big contract, all that stuff. The fact is I just need to be me."
Who will be his head coach when the regular season starts, though, no one knows for sure.
The interim head coach until the regular season starts is Joe Vitt, but he also has a six-game suspension for his role in the bounty scandal. Interim coach No. 2 is expected to be offensive line coach/running game coordinator Aaron Kromer, but that is not definite. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael will also be considered, as will new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Saints owner Tom Benson and general manager Mickey Loomis, who will be suspended for the first eight games this season as well for his role in the bounty scandal, are expected to select the coach from the present staff.
"Mickey has a couple of coaches he will talk to," said Vitt, who has been an assistant for most of his three decades as an NFL coach. He was an interim head coach for 11 games at St. Louis in 2005. Vitt has been Saints assistant head coach and linebackers coach since 2006 when he was Payton's first hire.
"Mickey has a couple of people in mind," Vitt said. "We are going to see the personality of this team and what it takes on, and the coach that can best serve the needs of this team is the guy that Mickey and Mr. Benson will pick. This is not a decision that is going to be made in the next week or two. We've got great coaches here now."
Brees called the offseason weird.
"A lot of crazy stuff happened obviously," he said. "But here we are -- first day of training camp. Everybody's ready to go. I feel like we've all been through so much together, both good and bad. Certainly we've been to the mountain top together (Super Bowl champions in the 2009 season). And I think we all know what we're made of. But this is going to be tough, especially during camp here and in the first part of the season as we try to re-establish our identity and get into the flow without having Sean Payton here. And I can't even talk to the guy, which is unfortunate because he's a friend and he's a mentor."
Because of the terms of Payton's suspension, he can have no contact with any Saints coaches, players or front office personnel. And the craziness continues.
On Thursday, U.S. District judge Helen Berrigan will consider granting a restraining order in federal court in New Orleans for Vilma so he can play this season. Vilma has filed a lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for suspending him for a year for his role in the bounty scandal. Vitt said he is scheduled to testify on Vilma's behalf.
"I'll be there in between practices," Vitt said. "I stand behind Jonathan Vilma. I said this to everybody in my first press conference (after replacing Payton last spring). At no time did our players ever cross the white lines with the intent of hurting or injuring another player. I know Jonathan Vilma's intent. The commissioner has suspended us for the spoken word and not the clenched fist."
Brees said he would not be testifying Thursday, but he has already signed an affidavit drawn up by his attorney in support of Vilma. The Saints may not get Vilma back, and they will not have defensive end Will Smith for the first four games as he was suspended for the bounties.
Still, Brees believes the team can contend for the Super Bowl, which happens to be in the Superdome in New Orleans next February.
"I know the mindset that's been created here - the dynamics, the culture, the environment," he said. "And all of that is positive. And all of that is to build a winning team - team in every sense of the word. I'm excited. I'm always excited, and I love football. I'm excited about the unknown because in a lot of ways we don't necessarily know what to expect. And with all this stuff swirling around us, in the end, all we can worry about is what we control. I know the type guys we have. I know the type coaches we have. I know what we're made of. I know where we've been. I know where we want to go. There's no greater opportunity."
But right now, it's footballs over diapers for Brees.
"Drew's back," Vitt said. "He is certainly the greatest player that I've ever been around and I'm going on 34 years. This is a player whose character and integrity outweigh his playmaking ability. And he missed being here. He is a joy to be around. He is a natural leader. He loves the game, every aspect of the game and brings great energy to the game. He is beloved by his teammates, coaching staff and organization. It was great to see him and get him back in the building."
Brees was all smiles.
"I'm just excited to see these guys' faces again," he said. "I mean I haven't even seen everybody yet. A lot of these guys I haven't seen in about six months. So for me, it's like a homecoming."

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