Thomas Morstead was in a much different place while attending the ninth annual St. Francis Foundation Golf Classic.
No longer a member of the New Orleans Saints, Morstead is an NFL free agent for the first time in his 12-year career.
The Saints cut Morstead this offseason to save $2.5M in cap money, and the long-tenured Saints punter understood the reason why.
“I think it’s still hard to put into words still,” said Morstead on what the Saints franchise meant to him. “Our whole life has been wrapped up being a Saint. Being part of the city. To be able to create so many relationships and a winning organization with such fanfare, like I told everybody, there’s not one bit I could complain about.”
And Morstead continues to give back to Louisiana communities, including Northeast Louisiana’s. Over the last nine years, the St. Francis Foundation Golf Classic at Bayou DeSiard has raised more than $775,000. And Morstead helped do his part to ensure the event’s success.
“This is the most unique thing I do,” said Morstead on “The Morning Drive with Aaron and Jake.” “When I got asked to come up years ago, I said, ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll promote it.’ Then I think they almost quadrupled what they raised, and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I should come back next year and keep helping out.”
Morestead continues to give back to help the New Orleans community and beyond with his What You Give Will Grow foundation, which has raised more than $3.5M for a wide range of causes.
Aside from the Northeast Louisiana event being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, Morstead has been a permanent fixture at the tournament. And though Morstead’s run with the Saints is over, he still has hopes of making an NFL roster in the future.
“I wasn’t hurt last year, but I got hurt before the season,” Morstead said. “I wasn’t able to train, and that’s always been something that’s set me apart. How explosive I am, not being able to have that was a big deal. Coupled with the fact that I didn’t have a gym for most of the offseason, there were a number of things that made for a tough year. So talking with some of these new teams, they have valid questions for a 30-plus year old like, ‘Is this a downward trend?’ I don’t think there would be any other questions about can I directional punt, or can I get the ball off quickly… It’s, ‘Hey can you pound the ball like you have in the past or is last year a trend?’”
Morstead said he would survey the lay of the land after the draft and see what might be an appropriate landing spot for him in the future. In the meantime, he continues to give back to Louisiana communities, and of course, reminisce about the great times spent with the Saints.
And that includes the most famous play of his career, when he kicked a successful onside kick in Super Bowl XLIV, later dubbed “Ambush,” which helped propel New Orleans to its first and only world title.
“I don’t get tired of telling it,” Morstead said. “I was quite panicked when coach told me. I never believed I would do it. It was a huge momentum shift in that game. After we ran that play, I think everybody knew we were going to win that game. It was such a mental thing.”
And it might be a new era for the Saints, especially with quarterback Drew Brees’ recent retirement, but the “old times” were certainly the good times, especially when Brees and the offense relieved Morstead of his game duties. After beating Buffalo, where the team rushed for approximately 300 yards in a win in 2017, Morstead joked on social media that he was added to the inactives list.
After another game where he did not attempt a punt, he got Brees to take a picture with him and post it on social media.
“In the past three or four years, we’ve had like five times where we did that,” Morstead said. “It stopped being me going to find him and it started being him finding me and saying, ‘Hey Thomas, let’s go get our picture.’ It was a cool thing we had going.”
You’d be hard pressed to find a Saints fan that disagrees with that notion.