Drew Brees on New Orleans shootings: 'It's a tragedy'
The shooting deaths of two former NFL players in New Orleans this year have brought headlines about gun violence in his city, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, coming to face the Bucs in Tampa on Sunday, said Wednesday that the issue remains a difficult one on a personal level.
"It's a tragedy, an absolute tragedy," Brees said on a conference call with Tampa reporters. "You hate to see that, and these are two high-profile cases, but this kind of stuff happens every day in a lot of places. It's not just New Orleans. The crime rate in New Orleans is down quite a bit over the last four years. Obviously when something like this happens ... it's really tragic."
Brees and his wife were in attendance Tuesday as the trial began in the alleged murder of former Saints star Will Smith, who was shot and killed in New Orleans in April. Brees said he and other teammates were there to help Smith's widow, Racquel, during a difficult time.
"I can't imagine what she's going through and what this process must be like for her, having to relive this again," Brees said. "As you know, she was there and she was shot twice in that deal. To face the person that shot her, that's just a horrible experience. ... My thoughts and prayers are with her and the whole family. It's been a tough deal since April 9 when all of that happened."
Former USC and Jets running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed last week in New Orleans, and a man was arrested Tuesday on manslaughter charges. Brees said Tuesday being a day off in a normal NFL week allowed players to attend the trial and offer their support.
"There were a lot of guys who played with Will who had a chance to go there and be with his family, to just be with them and try to give them some strength during that time," Brees said. "Wednesday rolls around and unfortunately for us it's back to work and preparing for the next game. That's kind of the way it is during the season. We're constantly checking in with what's happening and trying to support her family as much as we can during this time."