Entire Brooks interview transcript reveals stinging quotes; Consultant: Superdome can be ready by Nov. 1, 2006
Jim Gray: Aaron let me ask you, how challenging has this season been for the team with everything that’s going on?
Aaron Brooks: Well, it’s been very challenging. It’s been one of the most difficult seasons thus far to really just maintain focus and concentrate on the job at hand. So hey, that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Like any other thing, you just have to deal with it best you can.
JG: You know, a lot of fans wonder this and I think that if you can be as candid as possible - I know you don’t want to jeopardize your standing or anything but do you think about the Hurricane in the aftermath ever while the game is being played?
AB: (Laughs) Wow, you know I don’t think so….
JG: I know that my mind wanders sometimes at work if I’m having problems. Obviously, nothing quite like this has occurred in my life which has occurred to all of you. But my mind wanders at work.
AB: Right, I don’t think so, but it’s like deep down in your heart when you’re not winning, when you’re not performing up to par, you kind of only wish you know that things were better across the board. You know, you wish things wouldn’t have went the way it did, and you try to think of ways to…, situations would have been better. Should have, could have, would have type things. And like I’ve said, you know it’s just tough to deal with, and we are out there trying our heart out, man, but it just hasn’t been going our way. And it happens sometimes on football teams so….Hey man, (laughs) that’s all right, we’re just dealing with it man, that’s all. Best I can say man, it’s been very unusual.
JG: Aaron, commissioner Tagliabue stated that he thought the Saints would probably play some of their home games next year in the Superdome. What is you and your teammates thoughts on that?
AB: Wow. One, we don’t know how that’s going to be possible. It’s gonna take a miracle to do that. And two, how loyal are our fans? Are they loyal to the point where they would go back into that Superdome so soon knowing that what happened, what occurred in that Superdome during the evacuation? You know there’s just many questions. And I think as a football team, right now, I don’t know if we can say that we can agree with that.
JG: Would you feel apprehensive about playing in there?
AB: You know that’s tough to say. I can’t even answer that right now. I mean I really don’t know. I could say yeah today and no tomorrow.
JG: Do you think that the league has dealt with the Saints fairly throughout this whole tragedy?
AB: No (pause), not at all. I feel that more should have been done. And if they want to put the burden on the owner, I think some needs to fall on the Commissioner, on the NFL. I think everybody’s involved in the situation. I felt like the Commissioner should have came down and spoke to us immediately after it happened – regardless if anyone, whether it was the coach or owner who denied him the right to come down, I thought he should have came down anyway. Because he’s first of all the Commissioner of the NFL. Everything goes through him and the owners and our team needed to be addressed from that standpoint. And I think a lot of it has been swept under the rug. I think it was more of a political platform than anything. And I say that because our first home game was in New York after we just finished traveling from Carolina and other places to play a home game in New York. And when we get there, we got the Commissioner, we got the President, we got all these politicians on the football field in our way so that we can’t warm up. So, I took it personally. I had had to cuss him out. I told him [NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue]: ‘Get the hell off the football field.’ And I thought that was [b.s] because it wasn’t about that. It was a great cause, and I hope all the money went to all the shelters that were needed but I just thought it was [b.s.] and I think that they (inaudible) enough to help us out in the situation. And for those who don’t understand, come down to San Antonio to see what our conditions are like and what we are going through, and see our facility is being shuffled from month to month. And, it’s just bad. And, it’s just uncalled for. The league is worth over billions of dollars and you can’t accommodate a football team that’s probably worth over $600 million better than what we’ve been treated. I just think it’s [b.s.], Jim.
JG: And when you told the commissioner what you had to say, did he respond? Did he get back to you?
AB: Well, it was just too much of a political platform for him to have even acknowledged. And from my standpoint, I felt like he wanted to make it convenient for him. But from my standpoint, I felt like he needed to come down and address this football team personally.
JG: Aaron, what would you have liked to have heard? What could anyone have said to you guys or have done that would have made you guys feel better?
AB: He [Tagliabue] could have lied out of his teeth as long as we could have saw him up there, as long as he was in front of us, and tell us anything. He could have told us anything – that the moon is green. He could have told us anything. The fact that he would have came down, would have at least sat with us, and say that at least he came down. He may not have had much to say or didn’t tell us anything that we needed to know, but he came down. And he just didn’t do that. And I thought that it was just wrong from his standpoint. I don’t give a damn what had transpired.
JG: Moving forward in the future, would you like to meet with him? Would you like to have the team meet with him before you guys enter into the next season?
AB: Jim, It’s too late. For what? Nothing he can say or do to help us out. I mean you guys, it’s not just the players. We have our whole staff that wanted to hear from him. We have secretaries that are part of it - have second doubts about their jobs and what the NFL will do for them. There’s nothing he can say or do for us at this point because it’s over. People have recovered to the best of their ability and gone on with their lives, moved on with their lives. So like, it’s no longer an issue anymore. The hurricane’s came and gone, and the situation that people are in pretty much are settled in now. So, there’s nothing he can say.
JG: Would you like to see the team return to New Orleans, or would you like to see them move on to San Antonio or Los Angeles or wherever else?
AB: Only if the city is feasible. If the city is feasible enough to where we have working hospitals, a working facility, a conducive environment that people can come back and feel enjoyable, comfortable. The schools are back intact, libraries, everything that a working city has and needs for it to be upwardly mobile, yeah I’d come back. But if it’s not up to par, there’s no need to go back Jim.
JG: Aaron, would you like to see Mr. Benson sell the team to someone like Terry Bradshaw?
AB: Hey man, Mr. Benson can do whatever he wants with the football team. That’s not for me to really get into or for me to have an opinion on. So, it’s his choice. He can do whatever he feels like. He’s his own man, and he will do whatever is best for him and his family.
JG: Aaron, how do you feel he (Benson) has handled the players and the circumstances?
AB: Well, yeah, that’s just another situation. For me, I’m quite sure he could have done a better job. I’m quite sure he could have done a better job. I don’t know exactly what he was dealt with, and I’m not trying to leave him out of it either. You know, if he sells his team, he walks away with 600 million. I don’t think a couple of million would hurt him to make his players feel very comfortable every week. So, I’m more than sure he could have done a lot more. I’m very sure he could have done a lot more. But hey, it’s over with and there ain’t nothing I can do about, nothing you can do about it. We just gotta wait on a decision that we will have no input on.
JG: Has he (Benson) addressed the team continuously and has he been involved in your guys’ lives?
AB: No, he hasn’t. No, he hasn’t, and neither has the GM. Nobody know what’s going on. We don’t know if we gotta let go of our leases or rent an apartment, rent homes. We don’t know whether the off-season programs are going to be here in San Antonio, back in New Orleans. We don’t know anything. The hurricane happened on August 29th, and we still have no answer on what’s gonna happen, where we’re gonna be, what’s going on. C’mon man, be for real.
JG: How can you guys possibly concentrate on the games with all that’s going on?
AB: (inhales) Man, [expletive], we trying our best man. We may not put the best performance out there but we tryin’ our best and the guys are sticking together. You know our situation. We know things are messed up right now. We know it, we know it, and we just try and go out there and play our heart out and hope for the best.
JG: How come we have not heard all of this all season?
AB: ‘Cause they didn’t want to hear this. They didn’t want to hear this. They didn’t want to come to me and talk to me like man, like you have, and ask me about these situations. People didn’t want to hear that. Lot of all this stuff happened behind closed doors. They don’t want to step up and ask these questions to us and talk to us like young men about the job that we do every day. They ain’t gonna do that. That’s why it’s just now getting out. We said…several of us as players have said it from time to time in the paper, but it was just small talk and downplayed and such and such because I guess it’s something you know that we as players didn’t want anybody feeling sorry for us. But no one addressed the real issues that you brought up today.
JG: Do you support the coach, Jim Haslett?
AB: [LONG PAUSE] I support him. As long as I’m here, I support him. I support this organization as long as I’m here.
JG: Quite frankly, Aaron – and with all due respect – that sounds lukewarm.
AB: Hey man, it is what it is, man.
JG: Well Aaron, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us this evening, and we wish you better luck as things go on. And I most appreciate your being so candid with me.
AB: Thank you, Jim. Take care, man. Have a nice day.
CONSULTANT: SUPERDOME CAN BE READY BY NOV. 1, 2006
A consultant's report released today states that the Louisiana Superdome can be NFL football-ready by November 1, 2006. This would allow for Saints games in New Orleans in the second half of the 2006 season.
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