ATLANTA — Drew Brees would much rather have spent his Friday morning in Atlanta preparing for the New England Patriots.
Instead, he was only in town to make appearances on the national television and radio shows doing live broadcasts leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl. He won't attend Saturday night's NFL Honors Awards show, even though he's considered the prime contender to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the MVP race.
Most of the questions Brees fielded Friday pertained to the no-call that ended the Saints' season almost two weeks ago in the NFC championship game against the Los Angeles Rams.
"The sting of that I expect to be there for a while," Brees said. "I've got bigger things to get on to. And that's my family right now and the offseason and coaching football and helping out with lacrosse and helping them play soccer and all kinds of stuff."
Then Brees will start preparing for another run at a Super Bowl. He reiterated on Friday that he'll be back for what will be his 19th season.
He's confident the Saints can build off the playoff heartbreak from each of the past two seasons.
"Because we have the same type of guys," Brees said. "Guys that are continuing to evolve and mature and become more veteran. Listen, this is our window. We're within our window, and we have to seize the opportunity."
Their most recent opportunity was dashed, thanks largely to the controversial no-call on a pass interference late in the fourth quarter of a game the Rams went on to win 26-23 in overtime. The play, during which Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis early and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Lewis, has been talked about ever since. The league acknowledged the error shortly after the game when Al Riveron, the NFL’s head of officiating, called Saints coach Sean Payton.
But the league didn't make any public comments about the call until Wednesday (10 days after the game), when commissioner Roger Goodell made his State of the League address in Atlanta.
Goodell said "it's a call that should have been made" and also that he understood the frustration of Saints fans.
Brees said Goodell should have spoken sooner.
"It would have been better served hearing that and a little bit more Monday or Tuesday after the game," Brees said. "I think that's what we all expected. It's really the responsibility of that position after something like that happens. Obviously it's significant. If it wasn't significant, then everybody wouldn't be talking about it. It caused a buildup, it caused a swell where everybody was waiting, waiting for a response, and I think it put more pressure on the situation for him and put him a position where he wasn't going to be able to succeed with anything he said."
If the interference call had been made, Brees likely would have been in Atlanta this week preparing for his second Super Bowl instead of just speaking to the media.
"I've lived my life by worrying about the things can control," Brees said. "I know there were things that happened in that game before and after that call that were within our control that we could have done better that could have resulted in a win. So it's unfortunate that the most obvious of those things was the no-call. Because arguably if you do the math, we would have been kicking the field goal with 15 seconds and we'd probably be here. But I focus more on the things on the plays we could have made that would have got us here anyway."