Saints QB Drew Brees is one of the most highly-respected players in the game, not only for his constant rewriting of the NFL record book but also for his presence off the field. Brees has the ultimate nice-guy reputation, and you won’t find any dissenting opinion from his former teammate, Buccaneers guard Carl Nicks. Nicks shared a locker room for four years with Brees but has no dirty laundry to air.
“Everything that’s said about him is absolutely true, and everything that hasn’t been said just hasn’t been said yet,” said Nicks. “He’s the perfect guy. I always joked around with him and said he was just ‘great at life.’”
Nicks spent four years as a starter for the Saints, and New Orleans’ offense was easily the most productive in the NFL in that span. Both Nicks and Brees won multiple trips to the Pro Bowl in that span, and thus were both key figures in that success. As one might expect, then, they parted ways with a very healthy dose of mutual respect.
Brees was already an entrenched and successful starter when Nicks arrived as a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. The latter player quickly jumped into the starting lineup and before long was considered one of the best interior linemen in the NFL.
“To watch his growth and maturity over the last four years while he was here was awesome,” said Brees. “He was a great personality to have in the locker room, always a smile on his face and joking around, having a good time. But when it was time to go to work, he was all business. It was a good dynamic for the O-Line room to have him around.
“So, of course, any time you spend that amount of time with a guy and he’s a mainstay on your line, of course you miss him. Carl is arguably one of the best guards in this league and I’m happy for the opportunity he got. Unfortunately, he goes to a divisional opponent. That’s the way it is.”
Indeed, Nicks’ jump to Tampa in March was something of a double whammy for the Bucs, as they added a massive talent to their line at the expense of an NFC South foe. And it means that Brees and Nicks are going to have to get used to being gameday foes. Nicks says he has actually been looking forward to the first time that happens.
“It might be a little weird, but I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this game since I signed. I don’t want to put a foot in my mouth, but I want to get after them. I don’t have any ill will towards them or anything like that, but that’s my old team and I just want to get after it.”
As Nicks points out, he might actually have as much to do with the efforts to limit Brees’ damage as anybody on the Bucs’ defense. If the Bucs can run the ball successfully and reduce the amount of opportunities for Brees and the Saints’ offense, they’ll have a much better chance of avoiding a shootout.
“We’ve got to run the ball to keep Drew off the field,” said Nicks. “Period.
“He’s a Hall of Famer, for sure. I got to play with a legend.”