Q: On the NFL and NFLPA meeting Thursday in Chicago:
A: I didn't know anything about it until the news broke Thursday morning. I think anytime that you are talking is good news. Hopefully, something positive came out of that meeting. I know that going through the courts is never a positive thing. If we get the two principal groups sitting down together then that is certainly good news.
Q:On how concerned he is about his rookie class not being able to work with the team right now:
A: We are all on equal footing there so there is not a competitive advantage of disadvantage to any of these rookies and what they are able to do or not able to do.
Q: On Reggie Bush's future with the Saints:
A: I don't know the answer to that. When we are able to, we will have some discussions with Reggie. He is currently on our roster and I really expect him and want him to continue to be on our roster. We all do. In terms of how that plays out with the situation with his contract, we will just have to wait and see after the labor issue gets resolved. He has been an important contributor to our team and our success the last five years. I think he can continue to be important to us going forward."
Q: On what he believes helped put the Saints as one of the "model" franchises in the NFL:
A: First of all, I think it starts with ownership. Our owner Tom Benson often gets undersold by the media and general national opinion about our franchise. He has done everything that I as a general manager or Sean Payton as a head coach could ask for in giving us the opportunity to be successful. A lot of his contributions to our organization go under the radar. The things that he did for our staff during Katrina was way beyond what any of us would have expected. I think that No. 1 starts there.
It is nice to be ranked high and we certainly appreciate that, but I kind of take that with a grain of salt being ranked really low in 2004 and 2005, I know what our organization can do. I know the people that we have in our building. I am really confident in their abilities. I think you have to take rankings and other people's opinions a little bit with a grain of salt, but I do believe we have a great organization. It starts with our owner, our head coach, our quarterback and filters down to our coaching staff.
That coaching staff that has guys like Joe Vitt, who I think is one of the best assistant coaches of all time. Gregg Williams, his credentials as a defensive coordinator speak for themselves. We have a great CFO (Dennis Lauscha) and a great public relations director, Greg Bensel, who I think is one pf the top guys in the business.
Q:On the Saints coaching staff:
A: They are critically important, I could go down the list with every guy. Our defensive line coach Bill Johnson is well respected around the NFL and gets the most out of his players. Aaron Kromer (offensive line/running game coach), who is really and up-and-coming assistant coach in our league. He has all the qualities to be a head coach. We just lost Dennis Allen who was our defensive backs coach to Denver who is now their defensive coordinator. We have a number of other coaches. Curtis Johnson, who is a wonderful and maybe the best wide receivers coach I have ever been around. I could go all the way through our staff. There just anyone that I would say is a weakness or lacks ability.
One of the things that I think is really important with your coaching staff is the chemistry they have together. We have great chemistry on our staff. Pete Carmichael, our offensive coordinator, is a critical part of our organization. His relationship with Drew Brees has been critical to our success. I couldn't be more pleased with how they interact with each other, but also our personnel department.
Q: On the success of Sean Payton has had during first five years is what he expected:
A: Absolutely, from the first moment I met him. I just saw a quality that I thought was really special. I was told by a number of people that he had a special quality and I could see that immediately.
Q: On how encouraged he is with the media reports about the strong turnout at the Saints player-organized workouts at Tulane.
A: I wish I could watch them (laughter), but I can't just stumble over there. The athletic director there, Rick Dickson, is a great friend of mine who I have know for a long time. I certainly appreciate that Tulane has accommodated the players. We are probably spoiled to a large degree because that is what our expectation was. Our expectation was that Drew Brees, Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith and a number of the other leaders on our team would take the bull by the horns and would have the team prepared. I guess what I am encouraged by more than anything else from what I read is that they have had a high-degree of participation, particularly of the younger guys and that is encouraging.
Profootbfocus.com has projected stats for the coming season. The website predicts Pierre Thomas will rush for 606 yards and 6 touchdowns on 126 carries. Rookie Mark Ingram will lead Saints rushers with 202 carries for 867 yards and 7 touchdowns. PFF guessed Chris Ivory wil carry 40 times for 178 yards and 1 touchdown while fullback Heath Evans is tabbed with 4 carries for 8 yards without a touchdown. The website didn't project any stats for Reggie Bush because it wasn't sure where he'll be playing Th's season. Former Tulane and Bears running back Matt Forte was picked to rush for 1,146 yards and 7 touchdowns while former LSU runner Stevan Ridley and now a Patriots rookie should gain 123 yards on 32 carries...
It would have been worse for USC if Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns hadn't overcome the Trojans a year later in the BCS title game. But for Young's late heroics, USC would have won -- and ultimately lost --two national titles.
Florio wrote it's difficult to chastise USC, given given what we've leamed about The Ohio State and what we all now suspect regarding every successful college football program. Players are getting paid and the only question is whether they also are being discreet.
Florio wrote for Bush and USC, the worst-case scenario arose not because of indiscretion, but because Bush consistently refused to pay back money that he received with the understanding that he'd Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels to handle his lucrative marketing rights. If Bush had forked over a small piece of the millions he pocketed from adidas and Subway and other sponsors in 2006, he could have saved his Heisman, along with USC's national title.
"We all got our rings, we've moved on, and I don't think this decision has affected the way we view that season," quarterback Matt Leinart told ESPN.
Bush probably feels the same way The passage of six years from winning the title to losing the title tends to do that.
More Florio: "(1) the NCAA needs to do a much better job of enforcing its rules on a timely basis; (2) the NCAA needs to do a much better job of enforcing its rules on a consistent basis, and (3) the NCAA needs to dump its rules and allow schools to pay these kids a fair amount for the risks they take and the revenue they generate.
USC made $18 million off Bush and Leinart on merchandise sales durintg their careers at USC.
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