Earlier this week, New Orleans Saints legends Deuce McAllister and Drew Brees teamed up with Crown Royal for a Night of Service Generosity Hour. The event was designed to benefit the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and Bastion Community of Resilience.
Louisiana has endured plenty of hardships over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida, but hopefully this event will help the community get back on its feet this holiday season.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with McAllister after the event to discuss his partnership with Crown Royal, the Saints’ recent struggles, his favorite running backs in the NFL and much more.
This interview is presented by Crown Royal.
The Spun: Can youtell us about your partnership with Crown Royal this season?
Deuce McAllister: It’s been a good relationship with Crown Royal. They’ve done a lot of different things for our community, and one of the things they focused on this year is generosity and being able to support our veterans. Drew Brees and I brought awareness to a couple of organizations that have done great things throughout COVID-19. For us, it’s about giving back. Their generosity - picking New Orleans to host a fundraiser and thank the hospitality workers and veterans was special. It’s an honor to work with them and be a part of events that you know will help out the community.
The Spun: You know the Saints better than most. Are they still a playoff team in your mind?
DM: The injuries have definitely set them back - It would be naïve to say it hasn’t. But at the end of the day, it’s still not an excuse. Guys still need to go out there and do their job. Injuries have affected them to the point where they should probably be around 7-3, but now you’re 5-5. They need to figure out if they can get some guys back healthy, and if they can, you can legitimately make a run to get into the playoffs. We know if the playoffs stared today they would qualify, but you still have seven games left. It’s going to be interesting to see how they handle this adversity.
The Spun: Taysom Hill just signed a new contract extension with the Saints. What are your early thoughts on the deal?
DM: I think it comes down to them wanting to keep him as far as a player. I think the other factor was the cap hit he was going to have, I think it was $8.9 million. They get to lower the number while keeping the player. You’re giving him an opportunity to compete for the starting job, and if he becomes the starter, that money goes up.And if he doesn’t, he still gets paid for being a versatile player. The biggest thing for him right now is getting healthy.
The Spun: Two weeks ago, Mark Ingram became the Saints’ all-time leading rusher. Did you get to chat with him after, and what did it mean for Mark to be the one who broke your record?
DM: Well, first and foremost, I love the person, and loving the person has nothing to do with his job on the field. We have a great relationship off the field and I’m extremely proud of him. I’m extremely happy for him. I know where he’s from - Flint, Michigan - that’s where my wife is from. My kids have had the opportunity to go to the same field that he grew up playing at. It’s a special moment, and to have the chance to call that play and hand the record over to him was very special. He has worked hard and earned that record. His teammates have earned it as well with their blocking. That’s something they’ll hold onto forever, regardless if someone passes him.
The Spun: Are there any current running backs who you love to watch?
DM: There are a couple of guys. Obviously, you have to be impressed with what Jonathan Taylor is doing. He showed the talent at Wisconsin. He’s a player you have to really like as far as what he’s doing. Derrick Henry is another guy who you just shake your head when watching. His skillset is special. Alvin Kamara is definitely another one. It’s also fun to watch Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. One guy who I would love to see healthy is Saquon Barkley. He’s a special talent, but he has been hurt. From a team standpoint, they haven’t gotten him going outside of his rookie year. But there are a lot of running backs I like to watch.
The Spun: Do you think this is the year we see a running back, like Jonathan Taylor, win MVP?
DM: He’s in the running for it, but I’d probably give him Offensive Player of the Year. At some point, one of the star quarterbacks is going to move up the ranks. I expect teams to load the box against Taylor specifically so they can stop him. I definitely think he can win Offensive Player of the Year, though.
The Spun: TheSaints have struggled on offense for most of the season, especially once Jameis Winston went down. Would you consider putting Taysom Hill in at quarterback?
DM: Outside of last week, I thought Trevor Siemian has been fine. I thought Trevor had done a nice job of getting them where they wanted to go, offensively. Last week was the first week that he struggled and you wondered if the game has gotten too fast for him. Part of the issue is they’re missing their offensive tackles. When they’re in, you don’t have to worry as much. When the quarterback is not comfortable, they are going to make some mistakes. If Taysom is healthy, I can see them giving him an opportunity to try and get them out of this funk.
The Spun: How important is it that the Saints, at the minimum, split their next two games?
DM: They have to split them if they’re going to stay in the playoff race. That’s why losing a couple of the ones you dropped the past two weeks hurt so bad because it put you behind the eight ball. It makes it really hard to go on a run because the margin of error is so slim.
The Spun: Which two NFL teams are the ones to beat right now?
DM: I would say Kansas City and Tampa Bay. I know Arizona has the better record and they’re playing really good football, but I would need to see them in high-pressure situations. It’s also going to come down to matchups. If Kyler Murray is healthy, that changes things a little bit. But I’m still going to lean with the experience of Tampa Bay. If Tampa Bay’s defensive backs are still hurt, then maybe it’s a toss-up. And with Kansas City, they’re averaging like 19 points over the last five games. That’s not going to stay the same. At some point, Patrick Mahomes and that offense is going to get it figured out. Defensively, they’re making plays right now.
The Spun: What has been the bigger issue for the Saints: their kicking situation or receiving corps?
DM: For me, I think it’s the kicking situation. Once you knew Michael Thomas wasn’t going to be available, you knew you’d have to play strong defense and great special teams. When you don’t get Wil Lutz back, you see the results. Lutz was going to be good from 50 yards and in. You’d know you have at least three field goal opportunities. And then if Deonte Harris gives you good field goal position, you can manufacture points. Now, you have to rely strictly on the defense for a full game when you were really built to win on defense and special teams.
Coming into the 2021 season, McAllister owned the franchise record for most rushing yards. That changed shortly after the Saints re-acquired Mark Ingram in a trade with the Texans.
Even though McAllister isn't the Saints' all-time leading rusher anymore, he remains a fan favorite in New Orleans.
McAllister will be at the Caesars Superdome this Thursday night to call the Bills-Saints game for WWL-870 AM.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.