NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was looking for a quality linebacker to join his team and he was happy when 29-year-old James Laurinaitis chose his team.
What lured the former Ohio State standout to New Orleans?
"When I first became a free agent, I called my agent Tom Condon and we talked about what I wanted to accomplish in free agency, "stated Laurinaitis. "I said I wanted to go to an organization that I really fee is a playoff contender, a team that can chase a Super Bowl, the Lombardi Trophy and I want to be part of a team with an offense and a quarterback that has success and the Saints were the first team to call."
He says five or six teams were interested and he felt like only a couple had a quarterback, an offense and a roster that he thought could be in the playoffs. Laurinaitis said once he sat down with Coach Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, he felt comfortable and was excited.
He said he can't wait to get down to New Orleans and get started. The idea of proving himself is a big factor in his motivation. He said he received some of the best advice from O.J. Atogwe when he first joined the NFL.
"He played safety for us and he said make sure that you really approach every training camp like you're a rookie, reprove yourself and in the last three years under Gregg Williams he says every day is an interview and that's his theory, "Laurinaitis said.
He added that he still has a lot left in the tank and can still play great football. He was asked if his intelligence and his approach to the game can help a young defense?
"I think it's just really situational awareness, "stated Laurinaitis. "I think sometimes in football games, stuff happens and stuff hits the fan, so to speak, where maybe you have to get out of a call or blitz, so you are just letting it ride and you have to play something basic just to make sure all 11 players are on the same page. I always wanted to be the guy to the extension of the coach on the field, and to be in charge of that kind of stuff."
His dad was a pro wrestler and Laurinaitis says he played a major role in his life.
"He was my little league ball coach all the way up until high school, "said Laurinaitis. "What he taught me a lot was just about work ethic. I saw how hard my dad worked in the weight room. I saw toughness. I saw him work out and perform in his industry through injuries an stuff. Unless something really couldn't be worked around, he'd be out there wrestling and doing everything that he would have to do. That is what he really taught me."
He said he was excited to have coach Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. He added, "When you have those guys you have a chance."
When he spoke with other players around the league he said he kept receiving texts from them that said when you have number nine at quarterback, you're always going to have a chance.
Laurinaitis says he remembers playing down in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the awesome fan base.
"When you throw-in the coach, the quarterback and the fans into the mix, it seemed like a no-brainer to me, "said Laurinaitis.