Mike TriplettESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
- Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
- Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate
METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees took issue with the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell waited 10 days to publicly address the officiating error that went against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.
Brees made the media rounds Friday at the Super Bowl. While he repeatedly stressed that the Saints can only control what they can control, which includes errors they made in the game before and after the missed pass interference and helmet-to-helmet no-calls, Brees also expressed his disappointment over Goodell’s silence.
“I think that we all recognize that being in that position, you are the face of the league. And you have the responsibility to come out and address issues when they come about,” Brees told “The Dan Patrick Show.” “And I would say that on Monday or Tuesday after that game we all deserved a response of some kind.
“I mean, do I really want to be in a position talking about this over and over again? No. But I have to stand up and do it because I have to represent my team, represent the Who Dat nation, and that’s my responsibility. So it’s the commissioner’s responsibility to do the same thing, and yet we don’t hear a peep for 10 days. And it’s because he has to do it now because he’s at the Super Bowl and he does his annual press conference.”
Brees made similar comments on the “Today” show, adding, “I don’t think he really said much during most of that press conference.”
“But at the end of the day,” Brees continued, “for us as players, we can only worry about the things that we can control. So you understand that officials have a very tough job, and there’s a lot of calls that are made and not made throughout the course of a game. It’s just tough when something that meaningful happens at the end of the NFC Championship Game that arguably would’ve sent us to the Super Bowl. And the call wasn’t made, and it was a very, very obvious call.”
Brees said definitively on both ESPN’s First Take and “The Dan Patrick Show” that he plans to come back for a 19th season and keep playing at age 40.
He also described the loss as “arguably one of the most devastating losses for me in my career.”
Brees said his children were crying after the game because of how invested they are too — though he joked that his 10-year-old may have been crying because Mom had promised him a cellphone if the Saints went to the Super Bowl.
“Listen, it’s gonna take some mental toughness,” Brees said of being able to get over the loss. “But I believe we’re up for it. I was impressed with what our team was able to do this year coming off last year [another heartbreaking playoff loss in the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’].
“I like where we’re at as a team. I like this window of opportunity. But we are gonna have to put this behind us. We are gonna have to allow this to make us become stronger in some way, turn this into a positive somehow, some way. And that’s difficult. That’s not easy to do.”
As for the mistakes the Saints made, Brees talked at length on First Take about the decision to try for a touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation instead of running the ball three times and settling for a field goal.
That has been the second-most hotly debated topic coming out of the Saints’ loss. But Brees said with “respect” to the Rams‘ offense, the Saints didn’t want to settle for a field goal and leave Los Angeles with 55 seconds remaining to try to tie the game. And he said the incomplete pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas on first down was “on me.”
“We knew we were gonna get all-out pressure. So we called a run play with a built-in, ‘Get it out to Mike Thomas.'” Brees said. “Listen, that’s a pass I gotta complete to him, in my mind. So I’m putting that on me. I’m not putting that on anyone else. The next play we had an opportunity to have a bigger play [on an Alvin Kamara run]; we didn’t block it correctly. That’s on us.
“Then comes the third down. Man, we had a great play. We caught ’em off guard. Their nickel was out of position. He’s scrambling to cover Tommylee Lewis out of the backfield. He admitted in the press conference afterward that he intentionally hit him because that was better than giving up a touchdown. So that’s the chess match within the framework of the game.”
Brees told “The Dan Patrick Show” that the third-down play was ironically called “Buckhead” — named for a popular area in Atlanta, where the Super Bowl is being held.
“Yeah, it was a play that was hopefully going to get us to Atlanta, right?” Brees said.
With the Super Bowl in Miami next year, Brees added, “I can almost guarantee we’ll have a ‘South Beach’ at some point next year.”