It’s no secret that New Orleans Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone has not been the picture of health since being drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. Anzalone suffered a shoulder injury just two weeks into the 2019 season and was placed on Injured Reserve on September 16, 2019.
When healthy, Anzalone is an impact player on defense, and one of the reasons the Saints front office likely felt comfortable losing A.J. Klein in free agency to the Buffalo Bills. But now, healthy and itching to get back to football, Anzalone took some time to chat with us at Canal Street Chronicles to discuss what it will be like facing Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater, and what he’s watching to pass the time during Florida’s lockdown.
First off, is everyone healthy? I mean that both for your family with the Covid-19 outbreak, but also your shoulder. How are we all feeling?
Everyone in my family is doing OK so far. My dad and both of my brothers are doctors in Florida, Iowa, and Utah, so they’re a little more exposed than the average person. My great aunt passed in New Jersey from Covid-19 at 89-years-old several days ago. It was very sad for the family, but she went peacefully. It’s been tough for the whole world and many lives have been lost.
But I’m doing well, fully-cleared and ready to play for a little while now. This pandemic really puts everything into perspective about the importance of health and how grateful I really am to have great health. Life is a very fragile thing!
Have you kept in contact with your teammates this offseason during the zombie apocalypse?
I’ve kept in contact with a decent amount of the guys. This is the time everyone is on their phones, so it’s not hard to get ahold of people. But most of the guys are doing what everyone else in America is doing: staying home and hanging out with their families.
Obviously the biggest news this offseason was Tom Brady deciding to come to the NFC South and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What was your first reaction when you heard the news?
Living in the Tampa Bay area in the offseason, a lot of neighbors and friends kept asking me if the Bucs had a shot at landing him, and I really didn’t think that they did. Like most people, I couldn’t picture Tom Brady playing for another team. But when I first found out, I was excited for the most part. Not only is it positive for my local community, but also we get to play against one of the best players of all time twice a year. That’s a really unique opportunity to compete against someone at the highest level.
Elsewhere in the NFC South, your former teammate Teddy Bridgewater is now a Panther. I know it’s all love between everyone, but are you looking forward to Teddy not wearing a red no-contact jersey?
This is the one thing that’s going to be really strange to be honest. The whole fan base, really the whole country, has seen how good Teddy has been in our locker room and what he meant to it. It’ll be really fun to compete against him for real, like you said not in a red jersey. He’s the best, though. I think we all know that.
There’s been reports that the NFL could open without fans in the stadium. Drew Brees has already commented on how “weird” that could be, but what are your thoughts? How much does the crowd there in New Orleans actually help you guys on defense?
Like Drew said, it would be really weird. Heck, at practice, we blast crowd noise all of the time, so we’re not even used to practicing without it! Whether it’s a reality or not, who knows? And I think it’s known across the league that the Dome is an extremely tough place to play in. The fans have such a huge impact on every single game, no question.
I know your home of Florida is mostly on a lockdown, so what are you doing right now to pass the time? What are you watching on Netflix, and follow up: something is totally fishy with Carole Baskin, right?
My wife and I have a pretty solid routine that we do to keep our day structured. We were able to collect some gym equipment before it all sold out online, and we’re able to work out together during the week. She kills me. She’s a beast, a former University of Florida soccer player.
We decided to watch all of the Star Wars movies since we both have never seen them. And they were good, not great, but good. I’ve also watched All American, Ozark, and a lot of Disney Channel Original Movies.
And of course, Tiger King. Yeah, Carole is completely sketchy.
Let’s do a quick “Who’s Who? Quarantine Edition” for the Saints roster. Who is the Saints player (or players) you would most prefer to be quarantined with for the offseason?
I know he’s a free agent now but I’ve got to go with my dog Manti [Te’o]. He works out a ton so I wouldn’t mind that!
Which player would get on your nerves?
Whoever isn’t taking this lockdown seriously!!!
Which player is practicing their ping-pong skills?
Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, or Larry Warford is my guess.
Who has thrown their PS4 controller at their television?
Trey Hendrickson, for sure!
Who has gotten food delivered every day?
All of my teammates who are 1) single and 2) not with their parents or grandparents.
Most likely teammate to download Tik-Tok?
Myself! Mine’s on private, though, so no one can see me being dumb!
Teammate who’s spent their period of self-isolation reading the playbook and watching film?
Drew or Demario Davis, no question.
Which teammate are you expecting even bigger things from in 2020?
I think a lot of guys are going to step up this year, but I’ll stick within the linebacker room. I would say Kaden Ellis. He’s coming back from injury after a strong start of his rookie year. He’s a smart player who can for sure make an impact on the defense.
OK, last one: You can only pick one in 2020, which would it be: Sack-fumble-score off Brady, pick off Teddy for a TD, or beat the Falcons 28-3 in Atlanta?
Sack-fumble-score off Brady would be the pick here. Beating Atlanta 28-3 would be funny, but I just want to win - I’m not that petty.
We’ll forgive Alex for not being petty toward the Atlanta Falcons, but he deserves a huge “thank-you” for taking the time to chat with us during these crazy times.
When he’s not home in Florida, he’s active in the community in New Orleans, donating time and resources to Animal Rescue New Orleans, so if you can, check out ARNO’s website to see all of the good work they’re doing.
What did you think of his answers? Tell me which Saints player YOU expect to take a step forward in 2020 - maybe Anzalone himself? Put it in the comments. Send me presents.