In part two of Last Word on Pro Football’s exclusive interview with Jim Everett, the former New Orleans Saints quarterback opens up about a variety of topics. It includes the team’s volatile era under Mike Ditka, his thoughts on Twitter and how it’s changed sports reporting, and recent rule changes the league has decided to implement.
New Orleans Saints: Jim Everett Talks About Mike Ditka, Twitter and NFL Rule Changes [Part Two of Two]
Dean Mullen: So what was it like when you find out the Rams were coming back to Los Angeles?
Jim Everett: There is a lot of ex-players and ex-fans that are excited. I’m real happy for them now. All these young kids in California, especially 10-year olds have been 49er fans and Charger fans since birth. Those same kids may start to become a fan of the Los Angeles Rams. Those kids are going to be the future.
DM: Obviously, you played a few years in New Orleans under Jim Mora. Anything you want to add before or after playing there?
JM: I gotta tell you this, Dean. After my three years in New Orleans the Saints hired Mike Ditka. I don’t think the Saints knew where Ditka was in his life. The Saints traded a ton of picks for Ricky Williams. I mean that was just crazy! Ditka calls me up one day and says ‘I’ve found our new starting quarterback. I’m getting Danny Wuerffel.‘ Are you kidding me? Mike wanted to do things his way and that’s what coaches do but really? Surely, fans were psyched to believe that Ditka was going to deliver a Super Bowl. Ditka brought in his special teams coach Danny Abramowicz.
That didn’t work too well.
DM: Do you think Ditka just fell behind in the times or was just hard-headed?
JE: Mike would tell you himself that he’s hard-headed. It’s Mike Ditka (laughs).
DM: Are the Saints moving in the right direction?
JE: You look at the draft in 2017 the Saints had. The Saints hit on nearly every pick last year in the first few rounds. It did surprise me that they went after this (Marcus) Davenport kid though. What do they know that everyone else doesn’t?
DM: Time will tell for sure one way or another. I was surprised too.
JE: I’m with you. I thought quarterback Lamar Jackson was going to be the pick. It made sense that the Saints would trade up to get a franchise quarterback. It’s unheard of for a team to give up picks for a defensive player. Not sure if that’s ever happened before. That kid could be the missing link for them. Just gotta hope he produces on the field.
Everett on NFL Rule Changes
DM: What do you think of the rule changes in the NFL to reduce concussions and protect the players?
JE: They started changing the rules around 1997. That was my last year playing. At that time, it was simply the one-step rule. If a defender could get one step and then hit you, it was fine. It didn’t matter if it was the head, knee, or whatever. That was all legal at the time. They were just knocking us out. Us quarterbacks were just trying to survive. I do like what they are are trying to do to protect defenseless players.
Players like Ronnie Lott would just tattoo our guys. Receivers and running backs were going down a lot more in those days. Now I used to be a defensive back myself. I’ve got some of that defense in me. You wanna get a good lick on them for sure. But why not try to hit them in the chest instead of the head. It does make sense.
DM: Sometimes, it’s not 100 percent intentional. In other words, the defensive guy isn’t always going for the knockout or head blow. Isn’t it hard for players going so fast to gauge where they’ll hit the player?
JE: Surely, there are going to be judgment calls overall. Players like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are examples to how the rule changes benefit quarterbacks. There’s no way (John) Elway, (Dan) Marino, or myself would’ve lasted that long.
Sports Reporting in the Age of Twitter
DM: So Jim when did you discover Twitter?
JE: First of all, in our day you’d have a reporter who would print something in the paper. Maybe you said it maybe not. You never had a chance for a rebuttal. I mean, I suppose if we would write the editor but that wasn’t practical. If a reporter said something that wasn’t true, you would just stay away from that guy.
Unfortunately, there were a few like that. In our era, we had beat writers who would go out with you could have a beer with. Then it got to the point where writers were doing it for shock value. The competition got more intense. Twitter is straight from the horse’s mouth. If you wanna say something cock-eyed it’s instant. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it is your opinion to the world. If a reporter says something that’s questionable, you can straighten it out in 2 seconds. I love that. That’s the way I parent and the same for my relationships.
I don’t like things brewing. Twitter is definitely interesting. And I do it myself. No one else tweets for me.
DM: Jim I’m in my 40’s and I really thought I was cool when I got on Myspace.com. Obviously, it’s hard to keep up with today’s technology.
JE: Yeah remember AOL ‘you’ve got mail’ (laughs).
DM: Yeah I keep hearing about SnapChat and how great that is. My wife uses that and keeps telling me about it.
JE: I’m telling you Dean. If she ever tells you she’s on Tinder you’re in trouble (laugh).
DM: Well Jim I really appreciate taking more than 30 minutes aside with me today. Let’s do it again sometime.
JE: Most definitely! And enjoy yourself in Kansas City. There’s a lot of good people up there.