Saints, Karney Get Well Deserved Bye Week

When the Saints come marching in, they stomp the competition. The team from the Crescent City is riding the wave of momentum now that they're back home in New Orleans, and at 5-1 the NFL has taken notice. We caught up with former ASU and current Saints fullback Mike Karney and talked about what has been so far a sweet homecoming to a city still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans is still dusting itself off from a devastating natural disaster. Mike Karney has been witnessing the rebuilding process ever since he came back in the spring. "When I first got back there things were definitely not normal," he recalled. "A lot of businesses weren't open and those that were, were not open that long because the demand for workers was so high. Now seven months later, things are looking much better. A lot of businesses came back and downtown is busy again. Obviously you got places like the ninth ward that still needs a lot of work. But overall, things are much better now than they were in March."

Spring is the season of re-birth and while the Big Easy was in the process of transforming itself back to a vibrant city, the New Orleans Saints were starting an exciting off-season that saw them add key payers such as Drew Brees and Reggie Bush. Having said that, did the fullback in his wildest dreams think his squad would be 5-1 at this point of the season?

"We have an entire new staff," he remarked, "some new players added to the team and you're sitting there saying ‘wow, this team can really be something special.' I can't sit here and tell you that this team is much more talented than the teams we had the last two years, but we definitely have better quality people. Coach Peyton brought in good character guys that buy into what we're doing and wanna win. That's what's carrying us right now."

Specifically concerning Reggie Bush, Karney was quick to praise. "He's a great player and I'm even more impressed with how great of an individual he is," noted Karney. "He's a classy guy and works hard. When you think about it, he made some sacrifices from an offensive standpoint and he hasn't scored a touchdown on offense yet. But we put him in so many different formations and he becomes a big-time threat. When he's on the field, you have to know where he's at. He's a big key for our success on offense right now. We use him any way we can."

Granted, Karney like any other Saints' player wanted to succeed first and foremost for the organization. Nonetheless, there was an obligation, if you will, to also succeed for the sake of the city that has experienced the worst natural disaster in our nation's history. The more you win, the more you can give down and ridden people some entertainment and joy to forget about their troubles. When it's all said and done, this NFL organization has undoubtedly been part of the healing process.

"No question we all feel obligated," admitted Karney. Especially the players that were part of the team last year and went through that tragedy. Speaking for myself, I felt it was my duty to give those people a winning team and a lot of hope to achieve other things later on, like winning the division and ultimately the Super Bowl. We have a long way to go, but every win will help us to be carried to bigger and better things. Ever since the spring, we were talking about the fact that it was time to do something big for the city."

The community has certainly given back to the Saints. Their passion and support was quite evident in every game played in the Superdome. "That Monday Night Football game (against Atlanta last month) was like nothing I ever experienced," remarked Karney. "There was so much emotion with all the media coverage and the frenzy of the fans. It meant a lot to us to be back in that dome. It's gonna be tough to beat us on home turf. We have a lot of good things going our way."

It certainly has been a whirlwind pace of events for Karney and his team. No wonder he's elated by the much-needed bye week. Not only will he use it to re-charge, but he will also make it a true homecoming as he returns to his old college stomping grounds in Tempe. "With the pre-season and the season itself it has been a lot of weeks where we went without a break," he said. "I'll be there (in Tempe) for the Stanford game, but it will be nice get away from the (NFL) game, clear your head and get ready for the second half of the season."

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