Q&A: Saints quarterback Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was at the Atlanta History Center on Tuesday evening to receive the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup from Athletes for a Better World, an organization promoting character development, teamwork and citizenship through sports. The award is named in honor of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

Before the event, Brees spoke briefly with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the award and his profession. Answers were edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: How do you compare the satisfaction of receiving an award like this with one you win through football?

A: First of all, when you think about the namesake of this award, John Wooden, obviously everybody knows about his on-the-court exploits, really unprecedented success. But the reach, the influence that he's had on so many people is, I think, really, the remarkable part. It's the great thing about sports, is how it transcends just the game and then it goes into life.

And I know obviously I’m very proud because I’m a Purdue graduate just like he is. He’s one of the most esteemed alumni from Purdue. And I know we have a John Wooden Leadership Center (and) kind of a leadership booklet that is given to all student-athletes when we go to Purdue. In fact, I have one. I have one, and I was looking at it this week. I promise you, I’ll pull it out and I’ll look at it. (I know) his “Pyramid of Success” and a lot of his sayings. I’ve read quite a few of his books. To be given the Wooden Cup Citizenship Award for a professional athlete is a tremendous honor.

Q: You’re one of many players who has outplayed his draft-pick status. With quarterbacks, what gets undervalued, and is there a way that that can be measured better than is being done right now?

A: There's no foolproof way, but I think more to the position than any physical trait, the most important things are your ability to lead, your ability to compete, your ability to be poised, show composure. I mean, certainly you've got to be able to throw the ball, you've got to be able to be accurate and do certain things in that regard. I think in so many cases, it's how do your teammates respond to you.

Q: How much do you personally feel the animosity in the Falcons-Saints rivalry?

A: I think where that comes from is this. Look, over the last five years with the exception, I think, of one year, being the Panthers winning the division last year, it's either us winning the division or the Falcons. And then you look at what, seven of the last 10 games we've played against them have been determined on the last possession of the game by three points or less, period. (Six games have been decided by four points in the past 10 games, each late in the fourth quarter or in overtime.) So you just know the type of game it's going to be and how good both teams are.

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