New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton was still putting his arms around the fact that he’s crossed rivalry lines when we chatted on Monday.
He’s following in the footsteps of Bobby Hebert, Morten Andersen, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and Joe Horn as players who have played for both teams.
Here’s the Q&A:
Q: Are you pretty glad this process is over?
A: Oh yeah, I’m definitely excited to be done with the process and know where I’m going to be living and what team I’m going to be playing for. I’m happy.
Q: How did the meeting and the dinner go with the Saints?
A: The Saints called my agent and they were real excited that I was a free agent. They had me as the No. 1 linebacker in free agency. They had crossed me off their list because they thought there was no way the Falcons were going to let me go. But it turns out that they did and they had a chance. When I got down there coach (Sean) Payton, (defensive coordinator) Steve Spagnuolo, (assistant coach) Joe Vitt and (general manager) Mickey Loomis, all of those guys, kind of wrapped their arms around me and didn’t want to let me go. They were just happy that I was down there. We had great visits; talking about the defense, the team and the direction it was going. I was excited to be a part of it.
Q: Where did you all go out to eat?
A: We went out to Emeril’s.
Q: Was it pretty good?
A: Yes, I had some crawfish. I never had crawfish before so I got some of those. It was just good. I had pre-draft visit there, but we never really spent time with the coaches and all of that. Then I got drafted to the Falcons, so you kind of grow up hating the Saints. It was a very important visit for me to take just to get a feel for the coaches and the players and see how they are.
Q: Any bad after taste in your mouth because the Falcons showed you the business side of football?
A: I was one of those people (who thought I’d finish my career with the Falcons.) But there is no bad taste in my mouth. . . it is a business. The teams are going to do what’s best for them. I had to do what is best for me. A team is going to put a value on a guy and other teams put more value on a guy. That was the situation. The guy has to go to the team that wants him more. The Saints wanted me more, so that’s where I went.
Q: Have you thought about putting on the Saints uniform yet?
A: I have and I’m excited. It’s going to be a little different for me, but I think I’ll fit right in. Gold was one of my colors in high school. We used to wear the black uniforms and Atlanta stopped doing that. I always wanted to wear the black uniforms so I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to get down there.
Q: Where are you going to play?
A: I talked to (Jonathan) Vilma and I talked to Coach Spagnuolo yesterday and they said they are going to get their best players on the field. They really don’t have everything all worked out. When I talked to Vilma he said “that if you feel comfortable and you’re the better [middle linebacker], then you’ll play the [middle] and I’ll play the [weakside] or vice versa or whatever.” I just want to win. Whatever we have to do to win, that’s what I want to do.
Q: With the Saints being in trouble with the league was that a factor in your decision?
A: Not at all. I wasn’t there when the bounty stuff went down. I have no issue with that. My main thing was, I went down there and they have a winning mentality. They’ve won a lot of games over the years. I wanted to go play for a team that has a chance to win the Super Bowl and I think that’s them. They are kind of taking on the mentality that it’s “us verses them.” That’s how I feel and can’t wait to be a part of it.
Q: Do you have a better chance to win a Super Bowl with the Saints?
A: Yes. I look at it like this. When you go to a team, it would be dumb not to think that you don’t have a better chance to win a Super Bowl with that team. I feel like Atlanta and the Saints have been evenly matched. But I really feel like there is more talent with the Saints. I will say that.
Q: Did you pick a number yet?
A: Yes, I think I will be wearing No. 50.
Q: Anything in closing?
A: Yes, I would like to thank the fans, Mr. Blank and the organization for taking a chance on a guy like me. The best of luck to them. Coach (Glenn) Pires really helped me grow on the field. Coach (Mike) Smith helped me grow on the field and off the field. I’m just thankful for them and the guys that I played with over the last four years.
Q: The fans have been on your case?
A: Yeah, I did an interview with someone from New Orleans and they said what do you look forward to? I said I look forward to playing on a team that has a chance to win a Super Bowl and that has truly great fans. I guess all of the Atlanta fans took it as me taking a dig at them. It’s been crazy. You can see all of the crap on my twitter timeline. But, hey, that’s part of the game I guess.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog