|Brees admits that being without head coach Sean Payton for an entire season will be tough. (Getty Images)|
Drew Brees wasn't happy when the Saints franchised him early last month and initially made it sound like he wasn't interested in playing for a one-year deal, even one that would pay him $14.4 million.
On March 30, Brees softened his stance, saying "My goal will be and always has been to get a long-term contract with the New Orleans Saints that will keep me here my entire career. I'm going to continue to work toward that."
On Tuesday, Brees was in California promoting his upcoming celebrity golf tournament and he was asked about his contract situation as well as the fallout from commissioner Roger Goodell upholding the suspension of Sean Payton, Joe Vitt and Mickey Loomis for their involvement in the bounty scandal.
As for the former, Brees, via the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken, said "We're continuing to work on a long-term deal." As for the latter, Brees admitted that "it was hard for everybody to hear" but admitted that the Saints are at their best when their collective backs are against the wall.
"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," Brees said. "We did that last year, and whatever is thrown at us this year, we'll continue to thrive."
Brees acknowledged that being without Payton for the 2012 season will be a big loss but mentioned that offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael handled the role of play-caller last year when Payton missed time recovering from a serious knee injury suffered in a game against the Buccaneers.
"So there was an adjustment we had to go through there," Brees said. "It was almost as if our head coach had been taken away from us there for about a four-to-six week period. I felt like everyone stepped up and did a phenomenal job. I think (Carmichael) really grew as a coach and as a person, and it was great to see that. I felt he was a huge part of our success last season."
The Saints quarterback was asked if, to his knowledge, he was ever the target of a bounty during a game.
"I know this, that when a guy has the opportunity to take a shot at the quarterback, he's going to take it," he said. "I'm not saying he's trying to end your career or he's 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. Every defensive player that hits you. That's just football. We play a violent game."
Specifically, it's structured violence, which is why the Saints' bounty scandal is so troublesome for so may. NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who played in the 1960s and 70s long before there were strict rules promoting player safety, was "outraged by" the damning audio recording of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that came to light last week.
"The players I talked to from my generation … we didn't play with bounties. Dick Butkus didn't have bounties on anybody, or there wouldn't have been anybody to play because he would've killed them all. This is nonsense."
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