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Drew Brees, Saints out to build an NFL dynasty in New Orleans

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees is heeding a new New Orleans calling. A dynasty quest compelled the reigning Super Bowl MVP to run post-practice sprints despite a 106-degree heat index after the New Orleans Saints quarterback threw a few incompletions ...

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Old 09-09-2010, 09:22 AM   #1
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METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees is heeding a new New Orleans calling.
A dynasty quest compelled the reigning Super Bowl MVP to run post-practice sprints despite a 106-degree heat index after the New Orleans Saints quarterback threw a few incompletions during the first training camp practice for coach Sean Payton's team.

Drained players and coaches trudged off the training complex field here, seeking refuge that steamy, July 30 morning.

Not Brees, the man who led the long-futile Saints to an uplifting, Super Bowl XLIV breakthrough.

The 2010 season kicks off Thursday with a rematch of the Saints' riveting 31-28 NFC Championship Game overtime victory against the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings.

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Brees is determined to defy skeptics who insist the Saints reveled in one long, "Lombardi Gras" celebration and will suffer the Super Bowl hangover only one team has avoided in the last 11 years.

Never mind becoming the first team since the 2004 New England Patriots to repeat. Brees is determined to leave lasting footprints.

"We have an opportunity to leave a legacy that's not just about one championship," Brees says. "It's how many can we win?

"Sustained success is the hardest thing in sports. It's human nature to relax and feel you've arrived. In reality, you have to sacrifice and dedicate yourself even more."

That dynasty urgency emanates from Payton.

Payton's "Don't be one-hit wonders" mantra is straight from his coaching mentor, Miami Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells.

"You don't look at Bill Parcells and Sean Payton and say, 'Hey, I see the match.' But it's the closest match I've ever seen," says CBS analyst Phil Simms, Super Bowl XXI MVP for the Parcells-coached New York Giants.

"Sean smiles for the camera. And when you turn it off, he turns into this other guy."

Like Brees, Payton is relentlessly driven.

"Sean could win six Super Bowls, he's still going to have a chip on his shoulder," Simms says. "He's had to fight for everything, from being a player (1987 Arena and Canadian leagues and Chicago Bears strike replacement quarterback) to a coach. Nothing will put that fire out.

"The same thing for Drew Brees: grew up in Texas, had to go to Purdue to play quarterback, heard all the naysayers in San Diego (with the Chargers).

"He turns his career around. Then San Diego gets rid of him.

"You think the Super Bowl got rid of that chip for him? Don't think so."

Brees considers his March 2006 arrival in the Hurricane Katrina-battered city instead of joining the Dolphins as his "calling." He sets the tone for combating what general manager Mickey Loomis calls "the disease of me" for a team dedicated to inspiring a Gulf Coast region scarred anew by the BP oil spill.

Season ticketholder Brian Creel, 26, was among 4,000 fans at that sweltering opening practice.

"Drew won a world championship, yet he's out here 15 minutes after practice, signing autographs — after he just forced himself to run wind sprints because he missed a few throws," the Loyola University career center recruiting manager says.

"He gets that the game is played for a city that believes in its heroes. And New Orleans' main hero is Drew Brees."

Patterned after Patriots

Brees and Payton wrote New York Timesbest-sellers and held as many book signings as possible. They wanted to thank fans, particularly after the oil spill caused new hardships before Katrina's fifth anniversary Aug. 29.

"Fans come up teary-eyed and want to look me in the eye and say how much our team gave them hope through so many tough times," Brees says. "They say, 'Bless you, boys.' That stuff never gets old. There's a lot more than football at work here."

So, no, Brees didn't feel as though he spent his whirlwind offseason doing too much.

"You want to go to a book signing and shake the hands of a couple thousand people," Brees says. "That's a big deal to a lot of people.

"Those are things Sean and I had in mind writing books. We knew what we could manage."

Loomis and Payton modeled the Saints after the three-time, Super Bowl-winning Patriots coached by Bill Belichick with quarterback Tom Brady.

"When we came here in 2006, we identified New England as the model," Payton says. "Bill Belichick does it as well as anybody in our business. If you look at how they won, it was a team-first attitude, good quarterback play, a sound coaching philosophy and getting the right guys in the locker room."

Says linebacker Jonathan Vilma: "We're a lot like that 2004 Patriots team, the core leaders we have. If a young guy does something wrong, we're policing ourselves."

In leading the NFL's top offense in three of the last four seasons, Brees has thrown for 122 touchdowns and 18,298 yards and completed 66.8% of his passes since Payton and Loomis took a six-year, $60 million gamble on the reconstructed throwing shoulder of the Chargers castoff.

"He's clearly at the peak of his game," Payton says. "His expectation level for himself is higher than anyone's.

"That's a characteristic the Bradys, the John Elways, Troy Aikmans, Joe Montanas and Terry Bradshaws had."

All are Hall of Fame-caliber, repeat Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

"You've got one of the great quarterbacks in the history of this game, you've got a hell of a chance to repeat," says Jon Gruden, ESPNMonday Night Football analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach.

Still, 2004 Patriots safety Rodney Harrison predicts the Saints struggle to keep their edge.

"I don't expect them to repeat," the NBC analyst says. "I don't see them replicating 39 takeaways.

"Without all those big defensive plays, they're not champs."

Fiery defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says his unit will improve during its second season in his blitzing system.

But second-year cornerback Malcolm Jenkins replaces veteran safety Darren Sharper, who had a team-high nine interceptions. Sharper will miss at least the first six games on the physically unable to perform list after March microfracture knee surgery.

'We're ready to do it again'

As for another potential distraction, Payton told USA TODAY early in training camp that he anticipated being fully exonerated of allegations levied against him in March in a Vicodin abuse lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by former Saints security director Geoffrey Santini, has since moved to arbitration. It implicated assistant head coach Joe Vitt of pilfering the painkiller from the team's locked drug cabinet.

"I don't think there will be a distraction, and I really think there will be probably closure on it sooner than later," Payton says. "I expect not only the individual case with the club, but also as it pertains to the U.S. Attorney's Office, will be handled sooner than later. ...

"As I said in the beginning, we look forward to the truth coming out.'

As for his team defending its championship?

"We'll be ready," Payton says. "This is a big deal to this city and region because they haven't had a winner in 43 years."

Back on the field, owner Tom Benson flashes his Super Bowl ring to fans while riding in a golf cart with wife Gayle.

"Two Dat!" Benson says. "I think we're ready to do it again."

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Old 09-09-2010, 10:58 AM   #2
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I asked the question midway through last season if we were built to be a dynasty? Apparently the Saints think so!
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