Before the city of New Orleans fell in love with Alvin Kamara, the most popular running back in the Big Easy was none other than Deuce McAllister.
New Orleans selected McAllister with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft after seeing him dominate his competition at Ole Miss. He became the first player in the program’s history to record three seasons with at least 1,000 all-purpose yards.
McAllister quickly seized his opportunity in New Orleans, rushing for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season as the full-time starter for the Saints. To this day he still holds the franchise record for most rushing yards, narrowly edging out Mark Ingram.
Following his illustrious career with the Saints, McAllister became an NFL analyst for Cox Sports Television. Saints fans can now hear his thoughts on his former team on WWL Radio.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Deuce McAllister to get his thoughts on the latest injury to Saints quarterback Drew Brees, if Jameis Winston could revitalize his career, whether Alvin Kamara is an MVP candidate and more.
Deuce McAllister joined us to talk NFL courtesy of Crown Royal and their “Water Break” campaign.
The Spun: I wanted to ask about your transition from the gridiron to the broadcast booth. What inspired you to pursue that field and become an analyst?
Deuce McAllister: It was really Hokie Gajan passing away. That was not something that I had purposely done for myself. I did some television work with Cox Sports, and the stuff I did was either after the game or during the postseason. When Hokie got sick, I knew they needed some help. I did it because it was Hokie. I never envisioned him passing away and then having to fill in his shoes. I enjoy giving the knowledge of what I see, but it wasn’t something I was planning to do after I retired.
The Spun: You played under Sean Payton for three years. When did you first realize he’s going to be a special coach?
DM: Early in Year 1. He was a frustrating coach early on in 2006 because of the training camp rules he had, and he wanted to bring in a culture of some of the things he learned under Bill Parcells. He wanted us to understand what it takes not only to be a good team, but an elite team. We’re seeing some of those things even 15 years later at the helm.
The Spun: How about your former teammate Drew Brees, who received brutal news this week regarding his rib injury/collapsed lung. Do you think we’ll see him back this season, and if so, when?
DM: I’m under the belief he’ll return as well as far as the regular season is concerned. He didn’t know he had cracked ribs heading into the 49ers game, he knew they were sore. When they did the X-Ray, they didn’t see the fracture – maybe it was because of the inflammation. It shows how tough he is as a player that he stayed in late in the first half. He felt like it was a back muscle, but it was a collapsed lung giving him some trouble. You saw him on the sidelines trying to stretch and stay involved. I do think it’s something that will heal, and hopefully it heals fast. You just got to make sure you’re doing the right thing for yourself. That would be my advice for Drew.
After being diagnosed with a collapsed lung and broken ribs, Drew Brees says he’s “got the best medical team in the world” and “will be back in no time” 🙏 pic.twitter.com/woQwZAEpKv
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 17, 2020
The Spun: There’s a lot of talk about who should start in his absence. Who would you pick, Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston?
DM: I would probably go with packages for both of those guys. The question you have to remember as well is that Taysom plays in so many packages. How many of those do you lose? You also might not have Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill this weekend due to concussions. Your playmakers are starting to go down, so it all comes down to if the Saints can put together a good enough game plan.
The Spun: Do you think Jameis Winston can revitalize his career?
DM: I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Jameis. He has to get the reps as the starter, and this week he’ll get more reps than he has in the past. He’ll get to work with the receivers and understand where to put the football. I think we’ll see a much-improved quarterback as far as Jameis is concerned. The one thing you see a lot of times is the football sailing on him. When he doesn’t have the footwork down, that’s when you’ll see that happen. Making sure he understands what they’re trying to do and what his options are on each play is important, and I think you’ll see the best of Jameis if that happens.
The Spun: Do you think Alvin Kamara should be in the MVP conversation?
DM: Just keep winning and doing what you’re doing. Any time you can score two or three touchdowns per game not only are you making yourself happy, you’re making your fantasy football owners happy. If they continue to win and he plays the way he’s been playing, he’s absolutely going to be in the conversation. He might not win MVP, but I think Offensive Player of the Year is something he can look forward to because he’s been so phenomenal.
Alvin Kamara is on pace for 2,016 scrimmage yards, 119 receptions and 19 touchdowns. It’s time that people mention his name when talking about this year’s MVP. pic.twitter.com/ET38K9fMUe
— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) November 17, 2020
The Spun: Who’s the most improved player for the Saints this year?
DM: Probably the most improved so far is Deonte Harris. For him, having to step in as a receiver has been impressive. It’s not just screens and out routes, he’s going across the middle and showing that every time he touches the football, he can take it the distance. On the defensive side of the football, Trey Hendrickson’s evolution and ability to stay healthy has been impressive. He’s shown he can play every down.
The Spun: Tell me about your work with Crown Royal this season?
DM: The biggest thing we’re trying to push for NFL fans is to hydrate yourself. Enjoy the game, whether you’re tailgating, at home or at a bar, it doesn’t matter. We just want to make sure you’re hydrating and taking breaks with water. It can be at halftime, it can be during a change of possession. Have a good time, but make sure you’re drinking some water and staying hydrated during the game.
The Spun: The Saints take on the Falcons this weekend. What is your key to this game without Drew Brees?
DM: You have to hit Matt Ryan. You’ve got to hit Matt Ryan. That offense – even though their record doesn’t show it – is putting up points. In the past the Saints have had success picking off Matt Ryan. You’ve got to hit him. It’ll be interesting to see if Calvin Ridley plays. Julio [Jones] should be fine. They’re coming off a bye week and have a ton of weapons outside. It starts with the Saints taking away the run game for the Falcons, and then you got to hit Matt Ryan.
🚨 Officially Falcons Week 🚨
Sunday ⚜️ Noon CT ⚜️ FOX pic.twitter.com/WlfCSrzNnl
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 16, 2020
The Spun: Should the Saints still be considered the favorites in the NFC South?
DM: I still think they’re the favorite in the NFC South. Depending on what happens with Tampa, you can technically only win one more division game and still win the NFC South.
The Spun: I saw a cool stat a few weeks ago that Dalvin Cook became the third player in NFL history to have 225 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in consecutive games, joining Jim Brown and yourself. What do you think when you hear that statistic?
DM: Man, you forget some of the things you did. That was a stat I haven’t seen in a bunch of years. There’s one out there where it’s myself and Walter Payton, and that’s just amazing in itself. I had a lot of great teammates to help me achieve those records.
Cool stat and nice company https://t.co/ihjIhybcyN
— deuce mcallister (@dmcallister26) November 8, 2020
The Spun: You’re a former Rebel. What are your thoughts on the job Lane Kiffin has done so far?
DM: I definitely feel optimistic. The issue right now is the defense. Hopefully they can continue to get better. Offensively they’re able to put up the points whether they’re throwing or running the football. You have to be excited if you’re an Ole Miss fan. The future is bright in Oxford.
The Spun: Outside of Alvin Kamara, who’s your favorite running back to watch right now?
DM: I like a couple of different running backs. Zeke has had a tough year in Dallas, but I love some of the things he’s able to do. Christian McCaffrey has been banged up, but he’s been great when healthy. There are a lot of great tailbacks in the league. Look at what Nick Chubb did last week coming off a knee injury.
The Spun: Last question. If you had to predict this season’s Super Bowl matchup, what would you go with?
DM: As far as conference championships go, I’d love to see Kansas City vs. Pittsburgh in the AFC. In the NFC, I think Saints vs. Packers, or Saints vs. Buccaneers would be a nice matchup.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.