Leads with Lucy: Mental toughness remains at the center of New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman’s philosophy

Former University of Dayton tight end Adam Trautman was selected 105th overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2020 NFL Draft. With his rookie season in the rearview mirror, Trautman reflects on his time in the NFL so far. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Lucy Couch

Sports Staff Writer

From the mental aspect, all professional sports athletes understand that being mentally tough is probably more important than physical strength. Adam Trautman credits his high school athletic trainer, Ryan Mullaney, for making mental health a priority for him.

“He (Mullaney) played in the NFL and would come to my house for training sessions and he was a terrific trainer and taught nutrition. The big thing I took from him was that you have to be so mentally invested in football. It’s 110 degrees out in New Orleans. It all takes a specific mindset when you are out in that hot weather. You have to be so sharp in your mind and he taught me how to set my mindset and my focus,” said Trautman.

Trautman originally started his football career playing quarterback in high school, with the intention of continuing that position at Dayton. He offered to switch positions a week into camp his freshman year and never looked back.

Having experience playing on offense has given him a unique perspective as a tight end.

“Playing quarterback, you see how you fit in within a certain pass concept. Quarterbacks naturally have good hands because you are passing,” said Trautman.

Playing with quarterback Drew Brees, who holds the NFL record for most career passing yards, was a dream come true for the Saints’ tight end.

Trautman reflected on what it was like to play with Brees last season. Though Brees has since announced his retirement after 20 years, Trautman was able to witness one of the most disciplined players in the league and said, “Drew truly had the first one in, last one out mentality.”

He saw Brees running through plays by himself in a New Orleans facility, without a ball, and talking himself through each one.

“I saw him doing that and was like oh my god it’s real,” Trautman exclaimed.

He went on to explain that Brees’ attention to detail is second to none and the way he takes care of his body, at 42 years old, is incredible. He described Brees as a player who wants coaches who will tell him the truth and be honest with him.

Trautman was able to see how it should be done as a professional football player and expressed everyone on the team saw it. He believes having a leader like Brees with one of the sharpest minds in the game was why the franchise was able to be so successful for the past decade.

“It’s easy to follow a guy like that. I was happy to at least have one season with him,” said Trautman.

This idea of mental toughness resonated with Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley as well in our last interview.

He said, “A lot of what makes people successful is under the hood. There’s a lot of talented players that come from all over but it’s what’s underneath the hood that makes you the most successful.”

This refers to a player’s head, mind, heart, and want to succeed. It will be critical for Trautman to continue keeping his mind sharp as he gets ready for his second season for the Saints. His mindset and mental toughness are what will differentiate him in the eyes of the coaches and launch a successful football career.

In the offseason, Trautman continues to train and keeps a focused mindset. When the 2020 season ended for the Saints, the team had two-and-a-half months of being on its own time.

“In college, you come back one month after Christmas Break,” explained Trautman. The transition from college to professional football has not been perfect, but Trautman credited Dan Campbell for making it almost seamless.

Campbell was an assistant coach for the Saints and was recently hired as the head coach for the Detroit Lions on Jan. 20. Trautman had nothing but good things to say about his former coach.

“You see the fire and personality in his interviews. He is so down to earth, and I loved playing for him. I’d take him to war and put him in my foxhole,” exclaimed Trautman.

Campbell helped Trautman learn the ins and outs and understood that it takes time to develop, especially without an offseason in 2020. Though Trautman still had a few bumps, he is just starting his career in the NFL at 24 years old and is excited to get to work in the offseason.

After last season, Trautman was able to take three-and-a-half weeks for himself to get away from football. He saw his family and friends during that time but shortly after had to start training again.

When asked about what his offseason looks like, Trautman went on to say, “It’s a grind once you get in the NFL. I have 13-hour days and train with some of the same guys as last year and some vets.”

Being a tight end, Trautman caught some passes in offseason training sessions from Brees and a few other backup quarterbacks. He expressed they’re all very personable and said, “When you have Drew, they all follow in his footsteps with how he goes through with things.”

He is currently training in Irvine, California, with workout sessions four times per week and running and lifting daily.

Trautman expressed, “The weekends are nice. You don’t have any responsibility really. Me and some other guys go out and have fun. Offseason is big for just enjoying your time and disconnecting.”

Though Trautman is still mentally invested in football, the offseason is a time for him to relax a bit and practice self-care. He loves being in a place like Irvine, California but remains cautious as California has been a hotspot for COVID-19.

Trautman trains in Irvine, California this offseason with hopes of taking on a bigger role come next season.

When addressing the virus Trautman expressed, “It’s obviously a really serious issue. Hopefully, we can get the vaccine in the next few months and things can go back to normal.”

NFL stadiums have given out 1 million COVID-19 vaccines since becoming testing sites in February in efforts to combat the pandemic. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the federal government proudly claiming that the league’s 30 stadiums would be available to administer the vaccine.

The NFL has discussed mandating the vaccine for its players, but currently, the union does not look to agree to that rule. Concerns remain on forcing NFL players to get the vaccine as some players will resist. It’s a topic that has not been finalized and will likely take several more months to reach a decision.

While the 2021 schedule has not been released yet, the Saints will likely match up against their archrival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, early next season. Trautman is able to play against those he looked up to as a kid like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

He did not get many minutes at the beginning of last season but spent time looking at the Microsoft Surface — he was featured in a commercial for the product about rookie talent shows alongside Alvin Kamara and other Saints players — studying plays and looking and pictures.

“I loved watching him (Gronkowski) and seeing him come out of retirement with Tom Brady,” said Trautman.

With Gronkowski’s new contract worth $10 million, he will remain a free agent and be with the Buccaneers for at least a year.

With 15 receptions for 171 yards, Trautman looks to take on a bigger role next season. He’s excited to take on that role for his offense and build his skill set.

“I want to be the dependable guy who the teammates and coaches can trust,” said Trautman.

He has goals of climbing to the playoffs and getting to the Super Bowl and relayed that he is at an organization where those goals are realistic every season.

Trautman expressed his gratitude for us choosing him to be our interviewee and reflected on what his position in the NFL means for Dayton.

“It opens up new opportunities and shows guys they can do it. I didn’t even play on a scholarship when I was there. It doesn’t matter where you come from because if you’re good enough and dedicate your time and effort, you can do it,” said Trautman.

He was glad to be the one drafted in the NFL from Dayton after 43 years because he wanted the people in the program to see what can happen after college.

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