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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Patriots, Saints hold joint practice

By Mike Reiss
ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The uniqueness of having the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints conduct a joint practice at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday was reflected by the scene in the end zone when it was over.

Tom Brady was there, petting a dog. So was Drew Brees. Brady's wife, supermodel Gisele Bunchden, was part of the group, as was Brady's new throwing coach, former major league baseball pitcher Tom House.

The group sat in a small circle for about 15 minutes, the last remaining people on the field, shooting the breeze as if they were in the middle of a college campus on a care-free afternoon. It was a scene that highlighted the friendship between two of the game's top quarterbacks.

"I've known Tom since college. We played against him when he was a senior at Michigan and I was a junior at Purdue," Brees explained beforehand. "Really, since then, we've crossed paths a few times playing each other, a few times in the offseason. We both spend some of the offseason in Southern California as well. I actually saw him this offseason. We worked out together one day.

"I have a great relationship with Tom, not only professionally, but personally. Certainly he's one of the best if not the best of all time."

Brady and Brees were the marquee attractions at the joint practice, which drew a New England single-session record of 14,830.

"It was a great atmosphere. Obviously a ton of fans came out to watch practice," said Brees, who played one series in Sunday's Hall of Fame game against the Cardinals and directed a 77-yard touchdown drive.

"For us, it's great to break up the monotony of training camp, always by yourself and that kind of thing, and come up for the opportunity to scrimmage against somebody other than yourself and really a great team. There's not a team that's won more games than the New England Patriots over the last decade. To have a chance to be around them, watch how they work, compete against new personnel and a new scheme is good for both sides.

"I love being able to compete against them because that's a tightly run ship," Brees continued. "Coach (Bill) Belichick has done a phenomenal job since he's been here obviously. They know how to work and win. It's great to have a chance to compete against them."

One obvious link between the franchises is that they have both been handed severe penalties by the NFL over the last six years -- the Patriots for illegal videotaping procedures in 2007 and the Saints for a pay-to-injure program.

Brees was asked if he admired how the Patriots responded to their NFL sanctions.

"They went out and almost won every game and obviously we hope we can put together the same type of result," he said. "Certainly it's something we can look at where maybe this is something similar we are going through. You try to take a negative and turn it into a positive.

"I don't know if I'd say that it's us against the world, but we're going to have a chip on our shoulder anyway. There's no shortage of motivation to go out and play well this year."