New Orleans Saints pass-rusher Junior Galette wouldn’t say he faced a “backlash” from inside his own locker room after he made comments last week that he would take his teammates now over the players who helped New Orleans win a Super Bowl in February 2010.
He did, however, receive “feedback.” And while Galette didn’t delve into details of that feedback, the most important thing he drew out of it was that “my teammates will always have my back,” he said Friday.
“That’s about it,” said Galette, who hadn’t spoken to reporters since his remarks provoked a strong reaction in news reports and social media. “They always have my back, regardless of what’s going on outside the (Saints’) world. The locker room’s always going to have my back; we’re going to have each other’s back.”
Galette insisted he had moved past the controversy and was squarely focused on the Chicago Bears (5-8), who host the Saints (5-8) on Monday night. Alluding to the fact the Saints had been defeated in four of their previous six outings, he said, “We haven’t lost this many games I feel like since I’ve been here. ... It’s a business of winning — it’s a fun game, but it’s a serious business, so we have to win games.”
When Galette met with reporters Friday, it had been eight days since he expressed his belief that Saints defenders these days were better than the ones who preceded them. In the process, he singled out pass-rusher Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who won championship rings with the Saints less than five seasons ago.
A multitude of Saints fans grew upset with Galette, who arrived in New Orleans as an undrafted rookie the season after the team won the Super Bowl. Vilma and Smith both fired back on Twitter.
And Saints coach Sean Payton said Galette’s interview went “five minutes too long.” The coach of the Super Bowl team, Payton said such debates should be reserved when everyone affiliated with the Saints during this era is 70 or 75 years old and sitting around a fire.
To make matters worse, the Saints lost 41-10 to visiting Carolina three days after Galette’s statements circulated widely, and the defense surrendered almost 500 yards.
The Saints’ leader in sacks over these previous two seasons with 19, Galette admitted he was eager to rectify the rout at the hands of Carolina.
“If you don’t come out and play your ‘A’ game and (you) make mistakes, I feel like if the opposing team is on their ‘A’ game, you can get exposed,” Galette said. “Anytime you lose, you’re ready to get out there (again) ... You play a Sunday game, you want to go out there on Monday and try to correct some of the mistakes you made.”
It wasn’t 100 percent certain Friday that Galette would be able to play in the Windy City. He was sidelined for practice Thursday and Friday with a knee injury he suffered in the setback to the Panthers.
Galette called himself day-to-day, but he did note on Friday, “It feels better today than it did yesterday.”
After landing a four-year, $41 million contract extension in September, Galette is signed with the Saints through the 2019 season. With three games remaining on the Saints’ schedule for 2014, he is five sacks away from collecting on incentives that would pay him $6.5 million over the next several years.