Saints QB Brees happy to take a lead role in labor situation

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. -- Saying "this fight was brought to us," New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees believed it was the right thing to do to put his name on an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

"I understand the sacrifices that guys made before me, veteran players, retired players, former players. and I feel that it is my responsibility to represent not only those guys, not only current players, but future players and the future of this league," Brees said Wednesday.

"I can't tell you how many guys have come up to me and say how much they appreciate having a quarterback, having a guy like me, to stand up for them and represent them. That means so much to me because I'm not doing it for any other reason other than I feel like it's right, I feel like it's fair, and I feel like I've been charged with that responsibility. And I'm fine with that."

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and six other current NFL players joined Brees in filing an antitrust suit in federal court in Minneapolis. NFL owners responded by locking out the players, putting the 2011 season in jeopardy.

Brees made his comments at a news conference promoting a celebrity golf tournament. Proceeds will go to the Brees Dream Foundation and be distributed to several local charities.

Brees played with the San Diego Chargers from 2001 until 2005, when he was allowed to leave as a free agent. He led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in February 2010.

Brees doesn't plan to be in court April 6 for a scheduled hearing on the players' request for a preliminary injunction to block the lockout.

Brees said that injunction is necessary "so we can get back into our facilities and start working out and start playing football, because that's all we want as players. We just want to play football. This fight was brought to us, so we're in a position where we're just trying to get back on the field as quickly as possible."

In the meantime, Brees has plenty of time for pursuits such as golf. For the second consecutive year, he's the host of the Cox Celebrity Championship, which will be played in May.

Brees also said he's optimistic the fight with the owners will be resolved.

"I absolutely believe that there is a settlement that can be reached and that settlement discussions will take place here over the next few months," Brees said. "And when I say settlement discussions, I'm talking about settlement discussions as part of this class-action lawsuit, antitrust lawsuit that we have as players against the NFL for acting as a monopoly and restricting free trade and our ability to get back on the field and play."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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