METAIRIE, La. — Robert Meachem sat at his locker in the Saints’ facility Wednesday and answered every question thrown his way.
Every. Single. Question.
Including whether he made a mistake leaving New Orleans to become a multimillionaire with San Diego in free agency prior to the 2012 season.
His answer wasn’t exactly yes and it wasn’t no.
“The mistakes you do make you learn from it. I don’t think it was a mistake,” Meachem said. “I think it was something I had to learn. I think God was putting me in a situation where I had to grow as a person instead of just as a player.”
Because he didn’t grow much as a player. In fact, because he did so little for the Chargers after signing a four-year, $26 million contract, some consider him one of the biggest free agency busts in 2012.
He finished with only 14 catches and two touchdowns, both of which came against New Orleans. He was buried on the depth chart this preseason and eventually was released by San Diego.
And then the call came from a 504 area code.
“I really would have smiled with the blessing of having a job (anywhere) but when it was here, that made it that (much) more special. I feel like God put me back here for a reason,” Meachem said.
The reasons are many for why it didn’t work in California, including getting acclimated to a new team and to a new system.
“One year you’re trying to readjust yourself and it was almost to the point where I felt like at times I was trying to me somebody else instead of just being me,” Meachem said. “And now I feel like I can come and just be me.”
It was not, he said, because his body was broken down as reports in San Diego claimed. Saints coach Sean Payton, the most important person in this scenario, agrees and thinks the skill set is still there to be successful.
“Sometimes someone has another opportunity and he is familiar with what we want to do and again, he is someone that we feel that can stretch the field,” Payton said. “He does a real good job of making plays above his head.”
As happy as Meachem is to be back in New Orleans, it seems quarterback Drew Brees is just as pleased with the transaction.
The two did combine, after all, for 23 touchdowns and 2,269 yards.
“We spent some time together yesterday and then out here today and just watching him run around, he looks as good as ever,” Brees said. “I look forward to getting him incorporated back in.”
Meachem played an integral role in New Orleans’ success for much of the past half decade.
During New Orleans’ Super Bowl run in 2009, Meachem caught a career-high 45 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. He may best be remembered for snatching the ball back from a Washington Redskins defender and darting into the end zone for a touchdown.
His production from that year fell so far in San Diego that he began to take on criticism. But now it’s time to put the criticism aside and the 28-year-old said he’s the one who can control that.
“I think everybody’s entitled to their own opinion,” Meachem said. “They can say what they want to say. But at the end of the day ... there’s a reason why I’m back here. ... I’m going to get to be the author at the end of the book.
“I’m going to have the last say-so. So I can write my own book now.”