Post-OTA Media Availability
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Has a lot changed around here?
“A lot’s definitely changed. (It’s a) whole new building. I had a chance to see some of it getting built when I was here a few years ago, (but there) definitely a lot of improvements (and) I’m happy to be able to take advantage of some of them.”
Has a lot changed schematically and are there things that are still familiar?
“A lot, I’ve had a couple instances where I’ve heard a new word and had to ask some questions. I’ve been able to pick up on the play calls and snap counts as if I never left. That’s a good thing. That’s less that I have to learn and re-acquaint myself with.”
How do you balance competing with
“It isn’t easy. I feel like I’ve been doing the same thing the past few years in San Francisco with Daniel Kilgore. In this league, when the younger guy can play, you know that’s what teams tend to go with, but guys did it for me. I have no problem doing it for him. We’ve already had conversations and started to build a relationship. I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t want to play. Naturally I want to play. We’re going to fight tooth and nail, so either way, I think this team will be straight at the center position.”
What do you attribute your longevity to?
“Just trying to take care of your body on and off the field, being smart, getting in the weight room, eating smart and trying to control my weight. A little of it is being blessed. Knock on wood hopefully I can keep it going. The key in this league is staying available.”
Does this feel like a homecoming?
“I look at New Orleans as my second home. I’m originally from South Carolina of course, but this is where my career turned around and I had my most success. It felt really good to be able to continue playing football here.”
How tough was it to go to San Francisco?
“It was probably one of the toughest decisions in my life. That day, I changed my mind twice. I told the 49ers I was coming, and then I told them I wasn’t coming, and then I told them I was coming. It was rough for me and my family. We loved being here. I had some things I couldn’t pass up at that point.”
What brought you back to keep playing?
“After the NFC Championship game last year, I took a couple days to think about it. I thought I could still play, I thought it was still fun and if the opportunity presented itself in the right place I thought I could still play and wanted to play. Of course this was choice number one for me and fortunately it worked out.”
Did you turn down any other opportunities?
“Not really, vaguely the 49ers reached out at first. It was one of those things that I knew last year the odds were it was my last year there. This was probably the one firm offer I had.”
Did it take longer than you thought it would to end up with the Saints?
“There were some things that were beneficial for me personally and some things for the team. We waited it out a little bit and it also gave them the chance to explore some options. With a 35-year old guy, I’m sure they wanted to make sure everything was right.”
What was it like when you first saw
“A great feeling. When you get to play with Drew Brees, you are playing with a great quarterback, a smart quarterback, one of the all-time greats. To walk in and postentially be under center for him again, he was always great to me the first time and it’s always great to see his face, as it it’s good to see Coach (Sean) Payton,
Is the NFC West as tough defensively as it looks?
“Yes, it is. Each year, you have six games that are tough, even practicing out there is tough. All four teams have great, physical, tough defensive lines. I think that division when I was here was one everyone laughed at a little, but now it’s one become one of the best divisions in football with four great defenses.”
Does your wearing 51 have anything to do with your friendship with Jonathan Vilma?
“I think it was about the only one available. You have a lot of d linemen and defensive players in 60’s and 70’s numbers. That’s the first thing I thought about it, Vilma. Hopefully if anyone’s wearing, hopefully based on our relationship, he’s happy I have it.”
When did the Saints first reach out to you?
“I think it was April on a visit, discussed it, they told me to think about it a little bit and make sure it was something I wanted to do. I was pretty sure about it. Fortunately we were able to (come to agreement).”
How long was your thought process?
“Probably about two days. From the get go, when the season was over and knowing they might have an opening at center and need a veteran guy, it was definitely a situation I was attracted to.”
As a veteran and a guy in the league for so long what one piece of advice could you give these players heading to the rookie symposium in a few weeks on and off the field?
“Number one, save your money. From a football standpoint, work hard every day. Train in the offseason. It’s a blessing to play this game and be around for this long. It’s gone by quick. Time flies by in this game. Save your money, because it takes a lot of stress off you and then you can play this game just because you want to play it.”
What’s the difference between joining the pros and becoming a Pro?
“Just making the right decisions on and off the field, this is a rough, physical game we play. You have to be in tip-top shape. You have to be fully committed to it. As time goes on, older guys do it right. I had guys in New York (to look up to) like Kevin Mawae and Jason Fabini who did it the right way day in and day out, positive guys on and off the field. Those were guys that molded me.”
You don’t see a lot of guys that have the opportunity to return to the team where they enjoyed their most success towards the end of their career. What do you think of it?
“It’s definitely a rare occasion. I knew I always wanted to retire a Saint so this makes it easier (laughter). One thing I learned is you don’t burn bridges. That’s one thing I try not to do and I think in the long run it helped open up the door for me to come back here.”