On the eve of the NFL's regular season, linebacker Junior Galette is on cloud nine, officially signing his four-year, $41.5 million contract extension with the Saints.
"It's the best day of my life, the other day I got named team captain," Galette said. "Now I just signed a four-year extension, feels good man. Feels like, you know, I'm here."
The 2010 undrafted free agent out of Stillman College grinded his way to becoming a leader of the Saints defense, maturing from a player with potential to key cog.
"I definitely wasn't a front-runner," Galette said. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my life either. I know what it feels like to have a chip on my shoulder. Keep grinding, and I'll get there, and I believed in that. People didn't believe me, I believed in myself. That's all that mattered."
Head Coach Sean Payton added, "Every year we have our players vote on the captains and obviously his course to get here is well-documented. He is someone that is very competitive. It is very important to him. He came here hungry and really made himself. He is very talented, but made himself a complete player and I think there is a competitiveness about him that serves him well."
Teammate Akiem Hicks has seen Galette's progress, "The fact that he wasn't given anything when he got here, that he had to work for it. All the respect that he deserves so far, it's an awesome story, and I think he's deserved everything he's gotten."
Following his 12-sack campaign last year, a career-high, Galette expects even more of himself this fall, especially after missing out on the Pro Bowl.
"It's my pride and determination to be the best I can be at my position," Galette said. "I don't feel like people respect me enough, that I'm a top tier guy yet, so until people give me recognition, I'm always gonna keep going hard, even after they do. I'm still gonna go as hard as I can to make myself better, to see where I can go."