You can have allthe talent in the world, a bunch of No. 1 picks, but if the chemistry isn'tthere, you won't succeed. Good chemistry is one reason I was successful withthe Chargers the last two years despite the QB controversy [between Brees andPhilip Rivers]. The guys on my team believed in me and my abilities, so weworked well together to make things happen--despite critics.
On injuring histhrowing shoulder in the last game of last season
I knew it wasserious the minute I got up [after Broncos DT Gerard Warren landed on him]. Asmuch as I wanted to believe the Chargers would re-sign me, I had a bad feelingthat that might have been my last snap in a Chargers uniform. It was.
On his recovery
I had surgery inJanuary, and I spent the next four months [in Birmingham] rehabbing with asports-therapy group. In the beginning it's tough--you can't do a whole lot.The playoffs are going on, and I'm sitting there in a sling just trying to getmy arm to move again, watching other QBs make great plays. It was like somebodywas stabbing me in the heart.
On his impressionof New Orleans
There's a lot ofdevastation, and that was kind of overwhelming at first. But my wife [Brittany]and I felt the attitude of the people was great. For them to have gone throughsomething like [Hurricane Katrina] and be so hopeful and so high-spirited wasamazing. They knew things were going to be O.K. and that the city was going tocome back. It's a great feeling to know we could help be a part of therebuilding.
On his favoritethings in the city
Going to the greatrestaurants. The cuisine here is amazing. My favorite dish has been charbroiledoysters from a place called Drago's. That is a dish I could eat all day. Wealso love walking around the French Quarter, talking to the people, listeningto the music.
On the toughestdefender he's faced
No one makes meshiver. But I played with [Pats linebacker] Junior Seau [in San Diego] andfaced him every day in practice. Every play you could see in his eyes that hewas coming for you no matter what. That's something I'll remember forever.
On Saints rookierunning back Reggie Bush
A phenomenaltalent. Phenomenal. All he did in high school and at USC is win, and if you sitback and watch him on the field for five minutes, you can see why. He's veryintense, and he works very hard.
On the assets ofDrew Brees
I'm still good atwhat I do despite the injury. I know how to be a leader on a team, how to makeplays and how to win.
BREES SIGNED WITHNEW ORLEANS IN MARCH. THE SAINTS OPEN THEIR SEASON IN CLEVELAND THISSUNDAY.
Photograph by Greg Nelson
G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/WIREIMAGE.COM (BREES ACTION)