Former running back Deuce McAllister is one of the most revered players in Saints history. He was granted a Super Bowl ring by the 2009 team, and he participated in some of the most remembered Saints plays of all time. Recently, I got to interview McAllister about the city of New Orleans, the 10 Years Stronger program, and some of his favorite plays as a Saint. Here's what he had to say.
Kevin Skiver: What is your most vivid memory of 2005, whether it's football related or something that you saw in the community? How does that memory still affect you today in the way that you participate in the community?
Deuce McAllister: Returning to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the Falcons really stands out to me. After all the city had been through over that year, it was amazing to see the energy of the crowd during that first game back. The memory makes me proud to live in such a wonderful place. I love to give back because everyone in New Orleans is like family and we help others out when they’re down.
KS: Was it one specific memory that made you want to participate in the 10 Years Stronger program? Or was it an accumulation of things that drew you to the program?
DM: I think it was really a culmination. So many great plays have taken place in the Superdome over the past 10 years and I was excited that Mercedes-Benz wanted to help share those memories with Saints fans both young and old. It was also an opportunity to honor the strength and resiliency of New Orleans and highlight some of the unsung heroes that helped make the city 10 Years Stronger.
KS: Of the plays nominated, which one (besides your 54th TD) stands out to you the most?
DM: I think all of the plays Mercedes-Benz chose to recognize are great, but I’d have to say Gleason’s blocked punt. To be back in front of our home fans after Katrina and to have that kind of play happen was magical. It was one of those moments where you felt like the spirit of New Orleans had truly returned.
KS: How did it feel to watch the Saints' Super Bowl run back in 2009? At what point did you "know" that it was happening?
DM: It felt amazing. Watching the team win the Super Bowl after all New Orleans had been through those years prior really made it feel like the organization had come full circle. We handled the Cardinals pretty easily, which gave me hope, but the real moment that made me know was when Garrett Hartley knocked though the field goal in OT against the Vikings to send us to the Super Bowl.
KS: How did it feel to be given a ring by the organization after their Super Bowl victory in 2009 (-2010)? Was it bittersweet?
DM: It really was a bittersweet moment for me. I still felt very close to that team after all the adversity we had been through years earlier, so for the organization to do that for me was amazing.
KS: What is the fondest memory of your career? Why is it that memory?
DM: The fondest memory of my career - I can't say it's just one memory for me - getting to that level was an accomplishment in itself. So I am proud I was able to achieve that feat. Some more guys will come along and win games and break records like we did, but hanging with the guys and playing the game you grew up watching and loving will always be special to me.
KS: After Drew Brees and Sean Payton's arrival in 2006, what "clicked" for the team? Was the locker room culture different when the team started to enjoy its success?
DM: Those two guys came in with some great leadership qualities that really helped the team get on track. Drew is a great quarterback and Sean is a great coach. The success we found after Drew and Sean arrived definitely affected the locker room in a positive way, because when you win the team gains confidence and has more fun playing football.
KS: Having spent your entire career with New Orleans, what is your fondest memory of the team?
DM: It’s very tough to narrow it down to just one because there are so many. Overall I think I’d have to say being part of the community is what stands out. Football aside, the community you feel in New Orleans is top notch. Being from the south and playing my entire career in New Orleans was special to me and I’m happy to still be working with the team for programs like 10 Years Stronger with Mercedes-Benz.
KS: How have the Saints and 10 Years Stronger benefited the New Orleans community as a whole? Did you noticed a marked difference when the team started to feel success?
DM: I think from both a confidence and pride standpoint the program has been very beneficial. After Katrina the team and community really came together and fed off one another. We had guys on the team help out with the relief efforts. When we returned to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2005 and Gleason blocked that punt, the community felt strong and united again. 10 Years Stronger is a great partnership between Mercedes-Benz and the Saints to highlight "The best or nothing" in terms of the plays and the local community members who have made a difference.
Thanks to Deuce for doing this interview, and as the season progresses check out the 10 Years Stronger program on www.neworleanssaints.com.