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Friday, May 30, 2014
Graham sails, Ryan dances, Brees does it all

By Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- There were a ton of interesting off-the-field notes coming out of New Orleans Saints camp on Thursday, when the media had its first access to the full team this offseason during organized team activities. Here are some of the highlights:

Graham moonlighting: Jimmy Graham hasn’t been with the team this offseason since he remains unsigned. But he was putting himself to good use on Thursday, helping to win a sailing race in New York to raise $10,000 for his chosen charity, Angel Flight.

Graham used his muscle to help Team Hugo Boss win the pro-am event as part of the IMOCA NYC to Barcelona transatlantic race.

“I am definitely hooked on the sailing now. It is going to be another obsession of mine -- which is good and bad!” said Graham in a press release from the event.

Quarterback Drew Brees was asked if he expected Graham to catch any flak for tweeting out pictures of himself enjoying himself on a boat while the rest of the team was at work on the practice field. But Brees, who went through the same experience while under the franchise tag in 2012, laughed off the idea.

“I do follow him on twitter but I haven't seen that one today,” Brees said. “I stay in touch with Jimmy (Graham) and there’s no doubt in my mind that a deal will get done at some point. He knows it’s part of the process and we’ve had conversations about that. I know that he’ll be ready when it’s time to come, but I’m not worried about Jimmy at this point. I’m confident that he is going to be just fine once he gets here.”

Ryan love-fest continues: Once again, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was caught on camera living it up in his new adopted home of New Orleans last week during the 41st annual Greek Festival -- joining the crowd with his wife in some traditional Greek dances. Ryan, who has also taken part in a Mardi Gras parade and the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade this offseason, has spent the past year in a mutual love affair with New Orleans.

He has become beloved for turning around the Saints defense on the field and mingling with the people off the field -- even buying drinks for fans as part of an impromptu postgame tradition at a local bar.

“Yeah, well I’m quite the soft-shoe,” Ryan joked when asked about the Greek festival. “My wife is Greek and honestly she was the best dancer out there. You can look it up, she was dominating out there. I was trying to follow. It’s a lot of fun.

“We love this town, and we plan on doing something special here. We want to be a little tiny part of our success, and I think the town will like us even more this year.”

Brees’ packed schedule: Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan sparked a fascinating conversation with Brees about his jam-packed offseason schedule on Thursday after the media swarm dissipated. Brees seems to be 10 places at once, from his devoted family life (with a fourth child on the way this year) to his countless endorsement appearances to his charity work to his growing Jimmy John’s franchise enterprise to his passing academy -- and the list goes on.

In the past couple weeks alone, he was spotted on a New Orleans balcony with film star and charity partner Matthew McConaughey, speaking at multiple graduation ceremonies and leading the Saints’ contingent to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office in Baton Rouge.

Brees talked about how he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to try and pack in as much as he can before the kids wake up, and he pulled out his monthly calendar, loaded with activities. But he smiled throughout the discussion.

"That's really my personality," Brees said. "If I were just sitting around doing nothing I'd go nuts. That's kind of the way I'm programmed."

Check out Duncan’s full column here.