Thanks again to Heath Evans for taking the time and please visit his website HERE for more information about the Heath Evans Foundation.
(on his injury):
Heath Evans: “The injury was miserable to say the least. Rehab is going well. It came at one of those times where I was really having the best year of my career and probably having more fun than ever with this particular team, and obviously we finished the way we wanted to finish and the way every team dreams to finish, but the whole year after my injury was kind of bittersweet. The competitor in you wants to be out there but I couldn’t be happier for our city, our fans, our team and our ownership. The rehab is going well, I’m on track and looking forward to getting back on the field next year.”
(on the timetable of his injury)
Mini camp will be the first time where we’re out there kind of full speed, working out the kinks, and after OTA’s and Mini Camps I’ll have a six to seven week period to work on all the issues I need to overcome.
(on replacing Mike Karney)
It’s funny, ignorance is bliss as they say. When I got there I knew Mike was a great fullback and I respected the way he played the game, he was a hard hitting guy that did a lot of things at a high level. So, honestly, when the Saints called in the offseason I was surprised to get the call. I knew what Mike had accomplished and fullbacks follow each other, so to speak, but when I had sat down with Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton to get a feel for what they were looking for and how they were looking to add a few different dimensions to their offense it kind of made sense, the move. Coming into training camp I still had no idea how much Mike was loved but I figured it out real quick. I kind of took my lumps from the fans during training camp, then when the lights came on week one my play and my effort and a lot of the intangibles that I bring to the table kind of spoke for themselves. You know it doesn’t hurt scoring three touchdowns in six weeks that I was healthy, so my thing is I want to be a huge part of the city. Beth Ann and I are working on our foundation as we speak and really just trying to become engrained with the New Orleans culture and the people, and really dive in. We’re selling our home in Florida, we really love (New Orleans), we don’t want to go anywhere, and we want to finish our career there. Hopefully it’s another five or six years.
(on the fullback position being overlooked)
Yeah, it’s kind of become one of those positions that a lot of teams try to do without. A lot of times teams are able to pull that off. At the same time, I think you always lose something. A lot of teams have gotten to the point where they don’t want to sacrifice a roster spot for a guy that can just run block. That was one of the things that they mentioned to me right in free agency, it’s a different dimension catching the ball out of the backfield, playing a one back set if need be – you know I didn’t get a chance to do that quite this year, I was still more or less kind of learning the whole offense even in the fullback role and some of the one back stuff that I was doing and even the special teams area of my game that I’ve played for the last nine years. Teams just want an athletic fullback and that’s why you only see maybe 10-12 teams that actually have a fullback on their roster. Believe me I’m not tooting my own horn, but you just don’t find a lot of guys that are willing and able to slam their head against linebackers every down that can catch balls in the flat and guys that are athletic enough to be a substantial help on special teams. It’s kind of one of those positions that teams do without, and almost in defense of those teams rightfully so, if you can get by without them you can carry another wide receiver or another offensive lineman or something.
(on how David Thomas fared replacing him as the Saints’ lead blocker)
I was a guy that kind of stood on the table for David Thomas. Obviously I played with him in New England, and when we had our tight end injury issues early and throughout training camp we really weren’t able to get guys healthy. Then, losing Billy Miller in the last preseason game… (the Saints) came to me and said “hey how about these guys in New England, they seem to have a plethora of tight ends up there” and David was a guy I kind of stood up on the table for. He’s really just one of those good football players. He can do anything you ask him to do: he’ll play special teams, he’ll catch, he’ll run, he’ll block, and he’s smart as anything so I knew he could pick up the offense in a week where he’d be ready to go week 1 versus the Lions. Obviously he’s not a fullback, but I think he did a great job managing all year everything he had to manage and I think our team wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good and we would have been in big trouble without him.
(on the SuperBowl win)
You know the funny thing is everyone knows I spent four years in New England, so they always assume that I’ve got multiple trophies. Well, I got to New England in ’05, so the only thing I’ve got on my SuperBowl record before last Sunday was the 18-1 debacle that we had versus the Giants back in ’07. So, this win on Sunday was sweet. The only way it would have been sweeter was if I was playing in it. To kind of help get that bitter taste out of your mouth from that 18-1 loss was huge. I’m looking to come back next year stronger than ever and put towards being part of a SuperBowl run for the whole year, not just seven weeks.
(on if losing out on 16-0 this year was worth sacrificing for a SuperBowl)
Yeah, for sure. And I’m not a believer in losing games on purpose. If we would’ve been healthy, if Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer would have been able to play the whole season I think we would have finished undefeated. We had an injury bug kind of come up and bite us late in the year and we hit a lull, but we got everyone back at the right time and we were able to re-peak. We hit our peak that Patriots week about week ten and were really able to soar there and then we kind of went into a lull there where we had to find our edge again and find our niche of offense, defense and special teams that we were going to roll with for the playoffs, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
(on if the team felt like they were in a position late in the season where they coasted)
I think that last week for sure, week 17. But before that we just got beat a couple of times. No one wanted to lose to Tampa Bay, no one wanted to lose to a team that had struggled like they had struggled this past season. We just got beat. One of my, call it “coaching points”, that I kind of stood up for late in the year was “guys, we kind of lost our edge. We started the year trying to prove we belonged, trying to prove to the world that we were one of the best teams in this league and that we weren’t just a bunch of front runners and we weren’t just a high scoring offense. That we had a good defense, that we had good special teams, that we had the key ingredients to make a SuperBowl champion. And after we smoke the Patriots the way we did in front of the world on a Monday Night Football stage, we kind of lost that ‘let’s prove the world wrong’ edge that we kind of carried with us, that chip on our shoulder that made us a nasty, mean and aggressive football team. We lost it.” And I don’t think the coaches lost it, I think the players lost it. The gameplans were there to beat Tampa Bay and to beat Dallas and we just didn’t have that nastiness that we carried with us into the playoffs.
(on the SuperBowl New Orleans Parade)
The parade was like nothing I have ever seen before, you talk about craziness. It was six hours straight of pure yelling and screaming. We got there about 3:30 and the parade started at 5 but we had people hovering around the floats an hour and a half before the thing even started. And once we got moving it was just sheer madness. And you really see the love that the people of Louisiana and the Saints fans have for their football team.
(On if the bond with the Saints and their fans really is different that anywhere else)
No question about it. Anyone that has known me long enough whether in the media or a friend knows that I’m not going to lip serve anybody, I’m going to tell it like it is. This bond between these people and their dome and their football team is really better than college football. Playing in the SEC, when I came to the NFL I never thought I would see this kind of love and passion for a football team. It is special, I’m telling you, the people love their football team in New England, but nothing like this. You don’t have the Red Sox and the Celtics and everyone else kind of distracting from one cause. Here that one cause is the New Orleans Saints, period, the end.
(on the Heath Evans Foundation)
It’s real simple: we’re a one stop shop for children who have been sexually abused. People always tell me, what do you mean you’re a one stop shop for children who have been sexually abused? Well, my wife was abused as a little girl and marrying her and coming into a relationship with her you see first hand really the pain and the consequences and the agony that followed her into adulthood. Knowing that she’s not the only one that’s been affected by this tragic style of abuse, once we got her the healing she so needed and deserved, we took off and said “man, we’ve got to use this NFL platform and this badge I get to wear on my jersey every week to really raise awareness about this and do something about it.” Obviously, we’re very financially blessed and we have an opportunity to bless others with those finances. So we started the Heath Evans Foundation and really the main goal is to help children and kids get into counseling after they’ve been abused so they can start to heal the emotional wounds that come with. The physical wounds will heal in time but the emotional wounds have to be dealt with otherwise they just fester and create huge issues later on in life.
(on the softball game he’s planning to benefit his foundation)
Yeah there sure is! Down in South Florida, down in my hometown of Palm Beach County. We kind of do unique things to bring awareness to the issue like you said. There’s a lot of other great cause and foundations to support. I think about breast cancer that affects so many great women across our great nation, but it’s nowhere near the effects of sexual abuse. We do softball events and football tournaments and all these different things. All of my NFL buddies come into town to draw the crowds so we can basically fill people in on the fact that one out of four girls in our country before the age of eighteen will be sexually abused and one out of six young boys before the age of eighteen. The softball tournament: We’ll pack out the Marlins spring training home down there in Jupiter, Florida. About 8,000 people standing room only with Pierre Thomas, Randy Moss, Reggie Bush, Adalius Thomas, Rodney Harrison, oh gosh the list goes on and on, I’m trying to remember, I know I’m leaving people out. Will Smith, a bunch of my Saints buddies, a few Pats players and a bunch of guys from all around the league will be there. We’ll play a charity game of softball versus our Palm Beach County SWAT Police Unit so it’s a great time. This is the second year we’ve done it and it’s a cool deal. There’s a link at heathevans.org or you can go to ticketmaster.com. Just search Roger Dean stadium. There’s lower seats left for $20, and upper level for $10.
(on offseason plans and Saints chances next year)
Offseason plans for me right now are all really just rehab and making that transition out of the training room and back into the weight room and then back onto the football field. I will basically be in season workout type deals until OTAs. It’s become that. And with our free agency stuff coming up, you never know, we need to keep our team together. I think we’ll do that and I think our chances are good, we just have to stay healthy and finish strong next year like we did this year.