With the deadline of July 16 approaching, Drew Brees has taken to the offensive, making his "campaign" tour, hitting top national television and radio shows.
Actually, he is making national media appearances to promote a program for baseline concussion testing in youth sports, in conjunction with the Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation.
The New Orleans Saints free agent quarterback is appearing on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday night, he will appear on the David Letterman Show on CBS.
Tuesday morning, he appeared on "Good Morning America" on ABC television about the "Bounty program.
"From just what we've seen, it seems like there was a pre-determined conclusion that the NFL had prior to the investigation as opposed to just going out and trying to find the facts," Brees told Robin Roberts.
Brees strongly questioned the NFL's findings.
"I think a lot of that stuff that's being uncovered now, a lot of the things they are bringing forward are not valid and I think for us, as an organization, a lot of people who were on the inside and yet on the outside, we just want to know the truth," Brees said. "America just wants to know the truth, the fans want to know the truth. They are tired of this. Quit wasting our time. If that is the fact, then we'll move on. If it's not, then lets make sure we vindicate the guys who are innocent and move on to positive things."
Brees also appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show," a nationally syndicated radio show (listen to interview here). Brees intimated that Saints coaches are being pressured not to talk about the bounty allegations, including Sean Payton.
"I have pretty good knowledge, and feel like - you know- I've been informed that I think a lot of those coaches feel like there are further sanctions being held above their heads if the don't cooperate - quote, unquote with the investigation," Brees said. "I think even though punishment's already been levied on the coaches, it's already been determined, umm that there are further sanctions that are possible if they do not cooperate," the QB explained. "I believe if they were to speak out on behalf of the players, umm that maybe that's the fear that they have, umm is that that's being held over their head. "The facts that have been presented thus far do not back up the punishment that's been levied. I think honestly, though, the facts just speak for themselves."
Brees went on to tell Patrick that being "the man" in the NFL is not his goal.
"The numbers will be there," Brees said. "That's not my motivation. My motivation is not to be the highest-paid guy or to have that label, even though that might be the case, because that's not what's important to me. What's important to me is that it's just and fair because it's in line with my resume and where I feel like I stand with the other quarterbacks in the league."
Brees then took his turn on the syndicated "Mike and Mike Show" on ESPN Radio with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (listen to interview here).
Voicing some of the same themes, suffice it to say that Brees is somewhat ready and willing to share his angst about not being signed to a long-term extension by the Saints yet. He is beyond ready to share his displeasure with the NFL, Roger Goodell and bounties.
"Ongoing discussions, I've always said you would think the process would be a lot simpler than it is, it just always seems to be complicated," said Brees. "Still very confident that we'll get a long term deal done and hopefully it will happen sooner than later."
The Saints placed their exclusive-rights franchise tag on Brees a few months back. If no new agreement is reached before July 16, Brees would have to play under the terms of the tag, currently established at $16,371 million for 2012. That is clearly not the desire of Brees. While agent Tom Condon is negotiating with the Saints, Brees is keenly aware of the intricacies of the talks.
"I'm very aware of where the Saints are at and certainly where I'm at," Brees said. "All of the discussions that take place are between my agent (Condon) and Mickey Loomis, the General Manager of the Saints. Obviously, I know exactly what's going on."
When asked why the negotiations are taking so long, Brees chuckled.
"Why do contract negotiations take this long anyway?" asked Brees. "Like I said, it should be a much more simple process than it is. It comes down to certain provisions in the contract. There are little things here and there that take time to resolve but in the end, the organization starts off at one place, the player starts off at another and you find a way to compromise and meet in the middle and get what's fair and just. I'm confident that we'll reach that point here, hopefully, sooner than later."
Mike Golic asked Brees if he would report to training camp if he does not have a new deal. Again, Brees chuckled.
"You know what? That's about a month and a half away," Brees said. "There's a lot of time between then and now. I'm just working on getting something done."
Brees was much more forthcoming and adamant about the NFL and the Saints "Bounty" situation and the way the NFL has handled it.
"It's been very disappointing, it's been embarrassing," Brees said. "Not just for the league but I mean, for all of us that are associated with the league. This is a black eye. Regardless of whether, at this point, the investigation shows that guys were innocent or there was that type of bounty, pay-to-injure activity going on, I think it just becomes more and more clear that the NFL had a pre-determined conclusion that they want the investigation to turn up. Everything was geared in the investigation towards that as opposed to let's just gather the facts and make sure that we have reliable evidence before we start throwing around accusations," Brees added.
Brees feels that his teammates and coach have taken undue criticism and had to deal with fears that their careers were in jeopardy, as he explained in further detail on NFL Network (watch video here).
"A lot of those coaches were living in fear of their careers, if they didn't cooperate," Brees noted on NFL Network.
Brees continues to step up to back his fellow coaches and teammates in New Orleans.
"When you mention all the names of the coaches that were punished like Sean Payton and players like Scott Fujita, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, these guys are great guys, great teammates. They're just completely getting thrown under the bus, their reputations tarnished, their careers threatened," Brees told Mike & Mike. "You better make sure that you've got reliable evidence that shows that they indeed were engaged in these types of activities because if they weren't, then obviously, Vilma is taking a pretty serious approach in his defamation lawsuit."
Like everyone, Brees is tired of the story and wants the truth to be known.
"In the end, we just want to know the truth," Brees said. "I don't know about you guys but I think the American public and the fans are tired of hearing about this. They just want to know the truth. There's so much coming from both sides. Put the evidence out there on the table. Let's see the truth about whether there was a pay-to-injure scheme or money changing hands. If it occurred, then punishment would be justified. If there's not, let's make sure these guys names are cleared and we can move on to much more positive things."
Brees says talk is cheap and that the players giving Goodell the power to rule and judge doesn't mean he should use it without documenting facts clearly.
"It's one thing to have the power to levy punishment," Brees said. "It's another thing to have legitimate reason and evidence that backs that punishment up. And that's the stuff that we have not seen. The only thing that's been proven is that there's been a lot of tough talk. We've heard the Gregg Williams tape and I don't condone what was said, talking like a mad man and very careless and irresponsible but Mike (Golic), you've been in locker rooms before. You've heard the stuff that's been said. It's much different when things are said, 'hey we're going to hit him in the mouth or we're going to rip this guy's head off.' There's a big difference from actually saying it or going out with an intent to injure or to end a guy's career. They've proven that there was tough talk but they haven't proven that there was actually money changing hands to out and intentionally injure people."
Then, it was an afternoon appearance on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," where Brees helped Saints fans breathe a sigh of relief.
"I would never sit out a football season," said Brees. "I love the game too much. I love my team too much. But obviously, there's a lot that can happen between now and then."
Brees concluded his whirlwind day on the David Letterman Show on CBS.
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