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After returning to New Orleans for the Saints' offseason strength and conditioning program, quarterback Drew Brees took a look back before going forward.
Unlike most players who would like to put a disappointing 7-9 season behind them, in effect burying the past, the ever-optimistic Brees was trying to put a positive spin on something only the way he can.
Brees said he didn't see the 2007 season as a hiccup, but rather as "part of the learning process." Unfortunately, he had learned that in 2003 as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
"I think you have to go through an '07 in order to achieve the things we want to achieve long term," he said. "I believe that because that's what happened in my career."
Brees was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year after helping the Chargers go from a 4-12 mark in 2003 to a 12-4 record the next season.
"My worst year, individually and as a team, was back in '03 in San Diego," he noted. "My mind-set was that it made us so much mentally stronger, and I think that's what will happen here.
"The only reason we're going to be able to accomplish what we're about to accomplish in '08 is because of what we went through in '07."
Brees said he was pleased that the Saints kept the NFL's fourth-ranked offense almost intact even though center Jeff Faine signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he said he's happy for Faine and has faith in Jonathan Goodwin, Faine's likely replacement.
And he firmly believes the Saints can get a big boost from running back Deuce McAllister, who is coming off knee surgery in late September, and wide receiver Robert Meachem, the team's first-round draft pick a year ago who did not play a single down.
"This is always an exciting time," Brees said. "Obviously, once the season ends, everybody wants to get away and should get away. It's a good time to clear your head, spend time with family and refresh. After a few weeks, you start thinking about that time in March. That's when it starts to get exciting."
To no one's surprise, Brees was one of the more popular players participating in the Pro-Am at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last Wednesday.
Brees, who has become a celebrity in the New Orleans area after two sensational years with the Saints, was besieged with autograph requests -- including golf balls and T-shirts. He autographed a football after the round for PGA Tour veteran Tim Petrovic, his playing partner.
Brees also obliged when asked to pose for photographs after nearly every hole, including one with four members of the LSU women's golf team -- who were caddying for Tour pros Jim Furyk and Nick Watney.
"It was awesome," Brees said. "My wife and I have fallen in love with New Orleans and the people. They are so resilient."
Brees smoked a 350-yard drive on the par-5 18th hole to set up a birdie, but the highlight came when Petrovic goaded him into hitting driver on the short par-4 16th. He belted a drive, hit his approach shot to six inches and tapped in for a net eagle for his team.
"Any time you can do that in front of a pro, it's fun," Brees said.
Compiled by the SportsXchange.
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Matthew Postins is the publisher of Saintsinsider.com. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.