Michael Lewis knows he’s going to be the “Beer Man” for the rest of his life. The former Saints returner, who is headed into the Saints Hall of Fame this year, had plenty of time to reflect on his career and the journey from driving a truck to returning kicks for the Saints. What follows is an edited version of his comments.

On going into the Saints Hall of Fame…

“I knew this day was going to come, I didn’t know it was going to come this fast for me. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, and especially, being a board member, seeing some of the guys that I actually played with going into the Hall of Fame. … When I got the phone call saying I was going in, I had to hold my breath not to tell anybody. It’s just like when I made the Saints team, I got a phone call from Ricky Porter, he told me, he said, ‘Hey, I want to be the first to tell you that you’re on the team, but you can’t tell nobody until they break the news tonight. … This is where I’m from. I’ve been in here a lot times, signing autographs all the time. Now I get a chance to see my picture on the wall, with guys that I got a chance to play with.”

On being cut by the Eagles in 2000…

“I got on the bus, called my friend and told him I’d leave my dream. I played in one NFL game. I’m satisfied.”

On the public’s reaction to Lewis being in camp with the Saints …

“Everybody talking about it was good, but then you also hear, the news saying, oh, this guy’s a great story, but he’s a long shot. When you hear that long shot thing, it just made me sit up at night and think about it and say, ‘You know what? I’m going to make it happen.’ I’m going to prove to everybody that I’m supposed to be here. I didn’t want to be in the league for just a couple years and fade away. I wanted to leave my mark.”

“It’s not like, four years, like, we talk about Invincible, and I love Invincible (about former Eagles receiver Vince Papale), it’s one of my favorite movies, but it’s four years and when you go back and say, what mark did you leave? He didn’t, older guy or whatever, I wanted to set records.”

On if he ever thought about quitting while making his way up through the arena ranks…

“It’s so funny, my grandfather (Willie Dean Lewis) passed away two years ago, he was my biggest fan. After I’d made it, played four or five years, I was sitting there talking to him, and I was like, ‘Did you ever think I was going to make the Saints team? You know, honestly, I was happy for you, but I didn’t think you’d have made it. If he’d have told me that, i don’t think I would have even gotten a chance to be on the team.”

On what kept him going…

“My grandfather. Every day, I went to practice, and I could look out there and see him. He was just my biggest motivation at the time. And then, when it was over, the smile that he had on his face.”

“He was the one who pretty much got me back into football. He was the one who pushed me to go play semipro football. I told him about a league where Buford was the coach. He was always, like, just go try out. What made things even more special was I sent a highlight tape to New Jersey of the Arena Football League, he was the one who bought me the plane ticket to fly me out for the tryout.”

On being the Beer Man…

“It’s just a guy who had a regular job, working 9 to 5 like everybody else, and not giving up on his dream. Everybody looked at me like just a normal guy because I had a 9-to-5. I didn’t go to college like the normal, traditional way of going to the NFL. … It was like, this guy is like one of us.”

On if he always liked the Beer Man nickname…

“It didn’t bother me. That’s what I was. I was a beer man, I drove a beer truck. That’s what my last real job was. I’m happy for it, because it taught me to communicate with other people. … I mean, c’mon, what fan goes to football games that doesn’t like beer? And I worked for Budweiser at the time, and I’d tell people, don’t call me the Bud man, because people don’t only just drink Buds. Just call me the Beer man so I can make everybody happy.”

On Tyrone Hughes…

“He and I are roughly the same age. He was playing back then, I was working, so it’s a little different. … I used to watch this guy, somebody that I could look after and see the things that he did. When I started playing, I saw his name, and he had a lot of records that I wanted. I couldn’t get them all. I was trying. The things that he did, I couldn’t do all the things that he did. I went through a lot of things. He said he’d been catching punts since peewee ball; I wasn’t doing those type of things. I’d never caught a punt before without talking about it. I put in a lot of extra work to be one of the best punt and kick returners there is.”

“The guys that they have now, they’re not doing what we did. We just didn’t do kickoff and punt returns, we were also on kickoff team and punt team as well. You don’t get a lot of the guys doing the grunt work that we did, plus the defense or on offense.”

“We sit around and talk about a lot of stuff, about who was the best returner. He thinks it was him, but you know, I told him, it was me. He’s bragging about his fast 40 time because he went to the Combine; I didn’t go to the Combine. I told him I would have beat his little record he had. I thought about challenging him to a race right now, but he told me we’re both old, there might be some bones that don’t work. We’d probably both pull up with pulled groin muscles.”