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Salute to you… Drew Brees

First of all i’m happy with my title. It would have been cooler if it was just ‘Salute to you Drew’ but you can’t do that cos algorithms exist and control my life. BUT that’s not the point. This is of course an appreciation article for the one and only Drew Brees.

At Undrafted we write controversial trade scenarios, unhinging mock drafts, terrible betting strategies and occasionally put something together that makes some sense. But today i’d like to briefly set aside the total chaos, and simply pay tribute to one of the all time greats.

Jan 17, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) waves to the crowd as he walks off the field after a NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s a Brees

I’m really going for it with the puns on this. Seriously though Drew Brees has put together one almighty career.

Drafted out of Purdue way back in 2001 by the then San Diego Chargers, the second round pick would soon earn himself the starting job. He made the pro bowl in 04, however a shoulder injury would halt any further progress, and Brees would be the victim of multiple benchings, before he eventually went on to sign with the Saints in 2006 as a free agent. This went pretty well for Brees, and for the Saints.

Since he first donned the black and gold, Brees has led the NFL in touchdowns, passing yards and 300 yard games. He holds the NFL record for career passing completions, career completion percentage, and career passing yards. Hall of fame, hall of fame, HALL. OF. FAME. 13 pro bowls. A BAKERS DOZEN of pro bowls! Hey that’s lots of pro bowls Drew.

His 2004 pro bowl season earned him comeback player of the year while with San Diego. He also won offensive player of the year four years later in 08, then with the Saints, and he was the MVP of Superbowl XLIV (44), when he and his Saints took down the Indianapolis Colts in a 31-17 win. Drew Brees gets himself a super bowl ring. It would turn out to be the only one he would win, and here’s me somehow making that sound like winning one super bowl is a bang average achievement. Most never even reach the big stage. But Drew did. And he left his mark.

I could reel off stats and awards that Drew has accumulated over his lengthy NFL career, but instead, here they all are:

Longer than my arm… and that’s just the awards. Here’s the records:

Just what the city needed

While the above list of accolades and achievements is truly remarkable, and will result in Drew Brees being recognised as one of the greatest to ever do it, his work off the field has been equally fantastic. Drew has reached out and helped millions through his efforts and charities, becoming a home town hero for the state of Louisiana.

It was the Saints who decided to take a chance on Drew Brees. The shoulder injury was a concern around the league. The Chargers had acquired Philip Rivers, and the Dolphins famously low balled Drew, but the Saints came through and scooped him up when he had nowhere else to turn, and Drew has spent every year since repaying that faith in him to the city of New Orleans.

NFL safety Tyrann Mathieu recognises the appreciation that New Orleans has for Drew Brees

He arrived at a time when New Orleans was recovering from total devastation. Hurricane Katrina, 2005, brought the city to its’ knees. The Superdome turned into a place of refuge for thousands of local residents, and the horrors that those residents experienced whilst crammed inside the Saints home stadium are so descriptively terrifying that I couldn’t even imagine. The toilets were overrun, they had extremely limited supplies, and it was cramped and crowded to the maximum. I can only imagine the stench, many have described it, few were unfortunate enough to have to experience it.

Through my ignorance, I didn’t realise how devastating Katrina had been in the area until I visited New Orleans myself. Spending just 48 hours there, I fell in love with the city, and found a soft spot for the Saints. Our Uber driver told us all about the days of Katrina, and how the stadium served as a hellish temporary home for so many of the cities people. Here’s a short powerful clip to raise some awareness to the story of the Saints and Katrina.

All of this happening just months before Drew Brees arrived. New Orleans has been coined ‘The House that Drew Built’. He’s an icon. He turned up and did his part to turn everything around. Setting up charities and funds to support the recovery, and within four short years, he brought home a Super Bowl to a city that needed something to cheer about so desperately.

His tireless efforts both on the football field and off of it earned Brees global recognition. He was awarded Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 2010, after the 2009 Super Bowl success. You can read that brilliant article here, which breaks down his story in very impressive detail.

A Legacy

Brees has been banged up this year. Took a devastating blow to the ribs, and has battled numerous injuries along with that throughout his career. But he’s a fighter. You could tell he wasn’t 100% this season. But he knew. He knew it would be his last, Now 42, there’s no way anything was keeping him out. Forget the result of the playoff game, that’s not how he goes out. He gave the game we love his all and Drew Brees will finalise his career by standing on an empty field in the middle of the Superdome, in the middle of New Orleans, the city he helped to rebuild, with his wife and three children, chatting and playing catch with Tom Brady. What a moment, what a way to round it off.

It’s been an honour to watch you Drew, I can look back and say I saw you play live and in the flesh, in your home city. I feel like we never appreciate the greats quite enough until they’re gone, and Drew Brees will certainly be missed.

Helluva run.

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