McKenzie happy with fresh start

Departure from Green Bay wasn't about contract, he says

Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie, who orchestrated a trade out of Green Bay one year ago last Tuesday, said he doesn't know what kind of reception he'll get when he returns to Lambeau Field on Sunday - but he's got to know it won't be pretty.

"Truthfully, I don't have the slightest idea," McKenzie said when asked what kind of reaction he'll get from the sellout crowd of about 72,600. "I know they have great fans up there. They're big Green Bay supporters. I imagine I'll be hearing some boos, but who truly knows?"

All McKenzie cares about these days is playing and competing for the Saints, who obtained him in exchange for a second-round draft choice and third-string quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan on Oct. 4, 2004. McKenzie held out of training camp and missed the 2004 opener seeking a trade, a request the Packers refused to give in to initially.

While speculation at the time was that McKenzie wanted to renegotiate a contract that still had three years remaining, he said that wasn't necessarily the reason for his desire to leave. He said the team's inability to go deep into the playoffs in 2001, 2002 and 2003 factored into his decision.

"A lot of folks may have thought it was about the contract with me, but that was never a front-burner issue," he said. "There were a lot of underlying things that really ultimately led to me wanting to be elsewhere.

"The only thing I was looking for was a fresh new start," he added. "Everything else was on the up and up from that standpoint."

McKenzie eventually received a new five-year, $22 million deal from the Saints after solidifying the team's secondary in the second half of the season. In 10 games, he had a team-high five interceptions and 13 passes defensed, playing a key role for a defense that fueled a four-game winning streak to close the season.

Saints coach Jim Haslett is certainly happy to have McKenzie. Haslett said the club did extensive research before the trade, and was pleased enough with his attitude and play to reward him with the new contract.

"We knew he was always on time for meetings and that he is a good guy," Haslett said. "He just wanted a change, basically. He didn't want to go back to Green Bay. He was looking for a new start and we gave him that opportunity."

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