Brooks tries to put Katrina, New Orleans behind him
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While much of the country is remembering the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, Oakland Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks is trying to forget everything that happened in his last season with the New Orleans Saints -- both on and off the field
"I'm trying to cleanse myself from New Orleans so I don't even try to go back and talk about it," Brooks said Monday, the day before the one-year anniversary of Katrina hitting Louisiana. "I don't even try to remember that year. It's in the past, it's over and it's done with. I only have a house to sell so I'm moving forward. I try not to think about any of that stuff."
Eighty percent of the city was swamped when the levees broke after Katrina blew ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. Virtually all 465,000 residents of the city and roughly 1 million more in surrounding areas were forced to flee; much of the housing was heavily damaged or destroyed; and the death toll in Louisiana was close to 1,600.
Brooks said even all the coverage from newspapers and television stations doing retrospectives and stories on the rebuilding effort along the Gulf Coast hasn't led him to think about what he and his teammates went through at this time last season.
"No because I'm not from New Orleans," he said. "New Orleans was my place of residency for six years during the season, but I only worked there. I'm not a New Orleans native, I'm from Virginia. So I just worked there. It was a job and I have a new job. And I'm very excited about being here and I look forward to doing some wonderful things here. ... I don't even try to go back. I don't even talk about it."
Brooks was in the Bay Area with the Saints when Katrina hit. The team had fled New Orleans early to come to California and practice before an exhibition game against the Raiders. When the Saints left Oakland, they went to San Antonio, where they practiced for the rest of the season while playing their home games at three different sites.
Brooks struggled during the difficult time with the Saints, completing 56 percent of his passes and throwing 17 interceptions and only 13 touchdowns in 13 games before being benched for the final three weeks of the season.
Brooks, who played well his first five seasons with the Saints, had a sour ending in New Orleans after questioning whether the organization was headed in the right direction. He signed on with the Raiders in March to replace Kerry Collins.
Brooks struggled early in preseason, completing only one pass in each of the first two games. But the offense has been much sharper against San Francisco and Detroit. Brooks was 19-for-32 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and one interception those two games and appears ready for the season.
Brooks even hooked up with Randy Moss for two touchdowns.
"It was just a matter of two guys being on the same page," Brooks said. "We've been getting better in terms of our connections throughout camp and it showed in the game. More importantly the line did an outstanding job to give me the time to get the ball downfield to Randy, which is really the key."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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