Leckey a Story of Perseverance

Editor's Note: The following story originally ran in K-State Official Sports Report on Thursday morning and is the first of a three-part series on former Kansas State Wildcats who will be playing in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday when Indianapolis plays New Orleans match talents in Miami.  Today, Official Sports Report features Nick Leckey of the Saints. During the next two days we will feature Ryan Lilja of the Colts, and Mark Simoneau of the Saints.

By Mark Janssen - Official Sports Report

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Sometimes things just work out for the best.

Example: Nick Leckey.

Starting in 2004, Leckey spent three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals where he started 20 games, but released after the '06 season. The St. Louis Rams then acquired Leckey for two years, but the center was released again after the '08 campaign.

On March 17 of 2009, the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder signed with the New Orleans Saints as an unrestricted free agent. But wait. He was then waived once the season started (September 26), only to be re-signed three days later.

Today, the former Kansas State center is in Miami with the Saints readying to play in Super Bowl XLIV against Indianapolis.

"This is absolutely the greatest feeling of my career. To win the NFC championship was just amazing, but now we're moving on to the next step ... the ultimate step," said Leckey, who was a sixth-round draft choice by the Cardinals in 2004. "This team has all the intangibles. It's a team without egos. We really care about one another."

And, the team plays in a community that really cares.

"There is no such thing as a casual Saints fan. Everyone is a die-hard. Everyone here grew up a Saints fan," Leckey said. "When I was in Arizona, the only time I ever heard crowd noise is when Dallas came in to play us. We never had a home-field advantage."

Leckey explained how he went to a movie two weeks after moving to New Orleans where there was a preview segment on the Katrina disaster.

"We had been there only two weeks, but it was emotional," Leckey said. "This is the next piece that our city needs as a distraction. There are still things wrong in various parts of the city because of the damage, but right now all the attention is on the Saints. They love us."

Leckey is a backup center, but a starter on the kickoff return, field goal and extra point special teams units.

"I remember how great our special teams were at Kansas State and how they had an impact on so many games," said Leckey, a product of Grapevine, Texas. "Coach (Bill) Snyder always stressed their importance and I remember how important they were in so many of our games. I hung on his every word; the man knows what he's talking about."

Sunday will be billed as a Super Quarterback Sunday with Peyton Manning for the Colts and Drew Brees for the Saints.

Of his own QB, Leckey said, "Drew's work-ethic is unbelievable. You can't beat the guy into the facility. He's there at 6:30 in the morning and doesn't leave until the evening. He's a first-in, last-out kind of guy, who has a natural confidence within a personal drive to be the best."

Leckey said his personal travel party will number 11, which includes four childhood buddies "... who are like my brothers."

"I probably won't see them much until after the game," Leckey said. "This is a business trip for me, but afterward I'll be able to hear them tell me what it was all about and see all the pictures. I'll be able to enjoy it through 11 sets of eyes."

As to whether it is the ring or the money - a reported $80,000 to the winner and $40,000 to the losing side - Leckey said, "Absolutely the ring is most important. As we've seen, the stock market can go up and down, but the memory of a Super Bowl championship, and your teammates that you made that journey with, is what counts the most. That's a memory that will never go up and down."