CARLSBAD, Calif. -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees visited La Costa Resort and Spa to promote next month’s Drew Brees Celebrity Golf Championship, but most of the talk focused on football, specifically the suspension of Saints’ head coach Sean Payton.
"I think obviously we are all disappointed,” Brees said. “This is a shock to all of us. But whatever is thrown at us we are just going to have to find a way to get through it and deal with it and stick together and stay strong. We'll see how this process continues to move on as we go, but we have a job to do and that's to play football games, win football games. We not only represent our organization but we represent the people in New Orleans and we are going to continue to do what we've always done.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Payton for one year after the NFL found that the Saints ran a bounty program, paying defensive players for, among other things, knocking opposing players out of the game.
Many former NFL players have said that bounty programs exist all over the NFL, in some form or another.
Brees did not deny that he felt he was targeted during games by other teams.
"I know this, that when a guy has an opportunity to take a shot at the quarterback, he's going to take it,” Brees said. "I'm not saying that he is trying to end your career, that he is trying to give you a concussion, or what have you, but between the knees and the neck, they're trying to take you out every time. I know that for a fact."
“I think that's just football. We play a violent game. I am not condoning, by any means, any kind of a bounty structure. And I will clarify that there is a difference between pay for performance and pay for injury. I'd say what we've been accused of is pay for injury and that is not the case," he said.
Goodell saw it differently and punished the Saints severely. In addition to Payton’s suspension, which starts on Monday, Goodell also suspended Saints' general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games.
Brees said he had no idea who would assume the head coaching duties in Payton's absence.
Media reports say that Bill Parcells is no longer a candidate and Brees said he feels confident that whoever takes over, the team will thrive.
“It seems like our organization whenever we're hit with something, any kind of adversity, we have guys that step up and fill the void, take on more responsibility and really thrive in it,” Brees said. “We did that last year and whatever is thrown at us this year we will continue to thrive.”
The Saints also have Brees’s contract to deal with. They made Brees their franchise player, but Brees wants a long term deal.
When asked if he would show up for the Saints first off-season workout on Monday, Brees replied: "We continue to work on a long-term deal and I'm hopeful we can accomplish that sooner rather than later."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times