Drew Brees discusses facing Tom Brady and the Bucs in the playoffs: click here for the full interview

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NEW ORLEANS – I had the pleasure of a great interview with your friend Brandon Landry yesterday and just kind of doing a story on your friendship and how you met and everything. What can you share about Brandon and what you guys have experienced the last several years?
“Yeah. So, obviously, Brandon Landry is the co-founder of Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux, and now I have a chance to be his partner with that for the last going on six years now. So it’s actually a funny story because when Walk-Ons first arrived in New Orleans, which would have been, I believe 2011, I remember I would drive by on the way to the Superdome for every gameday. It was always packed outside, everybody always seemed like they were having a great time. So I was like, man, I got to go check out Walk-Ons. So I remember walking in and at the time, I was a Jimmy John’s franchisee. I just brought Jimmy John’s to New Orleans. And so I was interested in the restaurant industry and down the road, I’d always kind of dreamed of having my own sports bar concept. And so I walked into Walk-Ons and the minute I walked in, I looked around and said, ‘You know what, if I were to build a sports bar, it would look and feel exactly like this.’ I loved everything about it. I loved the culture, I loved the vibe, loved the menu, loved the food, loved everything about it. And so it was not too far after that, that I said, You know what, I’m just going to look Brandon up, I’m just going to cold call them, introduce myself and ask him if he wants to sit down and just have a conversation about the business. And just kind of see where it goes. And so that’s actually how we met. Just called him up and said, ‘Hey, I love Walk-Ons, would love to talk to you about it and see what your long term vision and goals are.’ And we sat down and hit it off. And it was at a time when they were looking to franchise, they were interested in the work that I had done with Jimmie John’s and bringing it here and kind of my long term goals and vision with that. And, man, we just we meshed. And it was pretty amazing because I think Walk-Ons had three units at the time. And now we just, I think opened up our franchise number 46 and 47 nationwide, which is pretty awesome. But I’ll tell you what, Brandon has been a great partner. And a guy who, ironically, he was in college at LSU as a walk on basketball player at the exact same time that I was at Purdue. So we are the exact same age. He was a business major, I was a business major. So there’s just so many similarities. We both have such a love of sports. But I think more than that, alove of being part of a team, being part of something greater than ourselves. And it’s been awesome to be partnered with him with Walk-Ons, because I think we’re really building something special there.”

He said the one thing he admires about you the most is the way you treat people. He said he went to an LSU baseball game with you, took an hour for you to get from your car to your seats. And you signed every autograph, you were friendly to every person that came up to you, said you can’t walk on the street without people. But where does that come from? Is that your upbringing? How do you treat with every person with such respect?
“Well, I think a lot of that’s just how I was raised. But I think also, I was such a huge sports fan growing up, I had so many idols in so many different sports. I mean, that’s what my brother and I did every waking hour, if we weren’t at school, it was playing ball. We idolized a lot of these people. And when we had the chance to meet them, I can remember every one of those interactions, and just the way that it made me feel as a kid or as a fan. And in many ways that inspired me in some way to continue on. I think I look at that now as well now the roles are reversed, and I have that opportunity. Every person I meet, every interaction I have, especially with a kid may be the turning point or the defining moment for them with what they choose to do in life and it may not be sports-related. But if that’s something that they can reference in a positive way that makes a difference for them. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Saints, as long as you’ve been here have done a pretty good job at preparing for every possible contingency. And the latest with COVID is bringing on a couple special teams guys to isolate away from everybody. And with that, you’re not the oldest player on the roster anymore. Happy Birthday on Friday, by the way. So thinking about being 42 and still playing this game and playing against Tom Brady, who’s a veteran to use a nice word for that. Have you thought about that at all this week? I know you retweeted the History Channel meme that Tom put out there. But anything special about this matchup moving forward?
“Listen, I think, Tom and I have a friendship and mutual respect. We were texting back and forth on Monday just kind of chuckling at this whole scenario, right? Listen, he’s 43. I turn 42 on Friday. So that’s 85 years and a lot of football experience that’s going to be on the field on Sunday. Listen, when Tom Brady signed with the Bucs and I knew that he was coming to our division, I envisioned this game. So what was that nine months ago, eight months ago, I envisioned this game happening because I knew our aspirations as a team, to be in the playoffs and beyond. And I certainly knew what he was bringing to the Bucs and that talented roster. And so I think this is probably where we all envisioned being at this point in season.”

If I told you back in 2001, when you were 22 years old coming to the league that you’d still be playing at 42, what would you have said to me?
“Listen, there’s plenty of things I would have told you. No way, it’s crazy. I mean, that wasn’t even on my radar. I’ve said this many times, but when I signed with the San Diego Chargers back in 2001, as a second round pick, my goal was just someday to become a starter, if I just become a starter in the NFL. And when I first became a starter, it was well, man, I’d love to take my team to the playoffs, love to make a Pro Bowl. And then once we accomplished those things, it’s let’s try to win a championship and we win a championship and maybe I can play 10 years, maybe I could play 15 years. And you just kind of keep setting these goals and these benchmarks along the way, but never in my wildest dreams back then as a 22 year old coming into my first training camp would I have ever thought that I’d be here right now 20 years later.”

I know a lot of stuff goes into it, both in your mental physical preparation, all that sort of stuff. But how important is it to be at this stage of your career, playing your 20th season in the NFL to be like just a really competitive person. Like, how important is that to you being where you are right now?
“Oh, yeah. There’s got to be something that drives you. I’ve always loved athletics, I’ve always loved to compete. I’ve loved the grind, I’ve loved the preparation. I’ve loved allthe process that goes into actually then competing on Sunday. So much of that is part of the fun, and that’s what drives you and to be your absolute best and that is what the competition is about. It’s about the opportunity to compete and find ways to win. So is that a huge part of what drives me? Yes.”

I love seeing you recreate that photo from 10 years ago with Baylen (Brees) and have enjoyed seeing those kids grow up and be around you that facility and at the Pro Bowls. I know this means a lot to you 20 years in, but does this mean even more to you now that your kids are a little bit more invested? You talk about them being involved in their fantasy groups and loving this game? Does this run this year for them as they get older mean a little bit more to you?
“Yeah, it does. Absolutely. And it’s what has made me want to continue to play as well is because I know that they’re old enough to really understand it and get it and be a part of this. And these are memories that they’ll have forever. And they’re such huge fans of the game too. They’re playing flag football. They love coming home and playing Madden and creating their own teams and they played fantasy football this year to the point where I think Baylen had Alvin Kamara on his team in the championship game was the Christmas Day game. So AK scored him like 50 points and he won the championship. If he could have run up and give Alvin a hug, he would have and told him thanks for helping me win my fantasy league. Speaking of that game, he’s been wearing me out because he wanted a Justin Jefferson jersey, he wanted me to swap jerseys with Justin Jefferson to give to him for his birthday, which is also on Friday, by the way. So I mean, listen, and he was in up in the suite doing the griddy this last weekend, right? So where do you think he learns all this stuff. They’re so perceptive, and they learned so much from what they see from the guys in the locker room and press conferences and highlight videos and everything. But listen, those are the moments of inspiration for them. And just like I talked about the interactions that I have a chance to have with people just out and about. These are the things that will motivate and inspire them to be what they want to be in life.”

Was it hard after the playoffs going home to your kids? What was harder for you? And the way some of those playoffs ended or going home to the kids because they care so much and they are so invested at this stage?
“Yeah, well, listen, there have been some really funny moments with the kids. I mean, I think I told you about when we played the Giants back in 2015. At home, it was that crazy game that we won 52 to 49. But Baylen’s favorite player at the time was Odell Beckham Jr. and he wanted to wear an OBJ jersey to the game. And my wife told him no, you’re not wearing an opposing players jersey to the game, even though he’s your favorite player, and he went to your school, you’re not doing that. So after the game, I go up to the family area, I’m giving everybody hugs, and I can’t find Baylen. And she says he’s over in the corner pouting because the Giants lost. And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but dad won so he better be happy, he’s sleeping under my roof.’ But stuff like that, like I remember coming home after the Houston Texans game, I think back and 14 or 15 at their place. And J.J. Watt had sacked me a few times and I walked in the door and I’m like, Man, I’m so glad to be home. I just get to play with my kids and hang out and just relax. And I come in and the kids give me a hug. And they’re like, ‘Dad, sorry, you lost. Hey, let’s play.’ I’m like, ‘Alright Bay, that’s all I want to do is play.’ They’re like, ‘You be you and we’re going to be J.J. Watt. So you stand there, and we’re just going to sack you.’ We’ll just (have a) continuation of what just happened in the game for the last four hours. But it’s stuff like that. It’s kind of refreshing just because the kids are so innocent, and they do have short term memories. There’s definitely been those moments where they’ve been upset, but man, they click out of it pretty quick. And then it’s all about just playing ball and being a dad.”

I wanted to ask you about how you’ve seen Sean Payton’s leadership and coaching style evolve over the years. I assume, doing the griddy wouldn’t have worked on your 2006 team with that veteran group you have a Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle. I mean, has he changed with the times as you’ve played under him?
“Yeah, I mean, I think the game’s changed, the games evolved. And I think he is a coach has evolved. Listen,there are those values and those character traits that always stick with you and are always part of what you are trying to build as the foundation of your team. And so as far as that goes, as far as how we do business, and our preparation, and the sense of urgency that is created, and his very clear description as to each and every week, what it’s going to take to win a game and what we need to do in regards to the work during the week to win that game like that, that will never change. Because that’s just ingrained in him. And that’s and that’s who he is. But, I mean, I would say that, listen, each team has its own personality, right? Could I have imagined, basically, our locker room being turned into a nightclub after every win back in 2006? No, but that’s basically what it is. We’ve got the smoke machines and speakers and guys dancing, having a great time. I mean, that’s been some of the evolution is and I don’t even know when that started, or kind of where that came from, but I think it was around the 17 season. It was just, we do have this era of players and core leaders that have now been with us for a while and been a part of this run that have made it that way. At some point, I think Sean would always say this, any head coach will say this is the team takes control of the team. And there’s a level of accountability that exists where the head coach doesn’t even need to say anything, because it’s going to be taken care of with the leaders on the team or captains on the team. At the same time, there’s a time to work and there’s a time to play and have a good time. And this team, as much as any that I’ve ever been a part of, we know when to work and we don’t want to have fun.”

First of all, apparently, you are not offended by the History Channel meme. And I’m curious about your take on that. Second, I was wondering if you’ve noticed the kind of dichotomy between the quarterbacks that are left in the AFC and the NFC, where you have you and (Aaron) Rogers and Tom (Brady). And then on the other side, all four guys are younger than Jared Goff I believe. So I wonder what you make of that? I think that says a lot about the maybe current and future of that position in the NFL.
“Yeah, I guess that’s interesting. Obviously, me, Tom and Aaron have played this game for a long time, been around for a while. And then on the flip side, you’ve got so much young talent at the quarterback position around this league that really makes you feel like there’s going to be a lot of exciting football in the future with these guys leading the charge. And it seemed like there’s always another crop of QBs that are coming in the lead to that are more prepared than the last group. And I’m sure that’ll never change. And that’s why people love watching these guys play.”

As for the History Channel thing?
“I thought it was hilarious.”

Were you okay with the depictions on there? He seemed to make him look a little cooler than you I think.
“Yeah, I was thinking Tom kind of had, like I was going the biblical route, Tom kind of hadthe Abraham look going. Unfortunately, they made me look like the dad from Family Ties. I didn’t like the hairline. I’ll be honest, I would have liked a little thicker head of hair. I mean, I know I’m getting older and probably losing a little bit, but I would have liked a little more hair up top. I’ve never really been able to grow a beard. So maybe that’s what I’ve got later on in my future. Maybe I’ll get a nice, good, thick beard going. But I thought it was hilarious.”

When you said you were texting earlier this week, I know you guys texts all the time, is it rare for you to text an opponent and appreciate the moment like that during game week?
“Well, yeah, but I’d say there’s probably, Tom and I have known each other for a long time and been playing against each other since 1999. Maybe before a lot of guys that we’re on the field with were born. So I think, like I said, there’s a friendship there. There’s a mutual respect there. I think we have a lot of things in common. A lot of things that we both value and appreciate that are very much the same.”

{Transcript provided courtesy of the New Orleans Saints}

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