The New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees brought more than winning to the Saints organization; he brought hope both on and off the field.
The point about eventuality is that you never want to see it manifested. Yes, all good things must come to an end (except for maybe 2020), but when things are good you want to ride that wave forever. New Orleans Saints fans know they had/have a good thing with Drew Brees at quarterback.
Could the inevitable happen where Sunday is the last time we see Brees in a Saints uniform?
The expectation is that this inevitability will be postponed for at least a week. The Saints open up as a ten-point favorite against the Chicago Bears. This is the biggest spread amongst all Wild Card games this weekend.
As we know things don’t always go according to plan. The Saints were an 8 point favorite versus the Minnesota Vikings in last season’s Wild Card round and that saw the Vikings shockingly upset the Saints 26-20 in overtime.
While a loss to the Bears would leave a lasting bitter taste for Saints fan, if it truly would be Brees’ final game, a true reflection of his greatness would no doubt leave Saints fans smiling as he has left an indelible mark on our minds and heart.
He, along with coach Sean Payton, helped usher in the Golden Age of Saints football. 20 years ago, most fans would never think such a thing would exist for this franchise.
Before Coach Payton and Brees arrived the Saints were a bit of a laughing stock for much of their history.
At that point, they had only made the playoffs 5 times in franchise history with only 1 playoff win to show for it. Fans can remember the paper bag days in the early 80s to the Aints moniker that seemed fitting for their woeful play on the field.
Something happened on March 14, 2006, however. Something that should be remembered as well as any holiday or anniversary for a Saints fan. A new era. A new hope. A redemption story.
That day Drew Brees inked a six-year deal with the New Orleans Saints to become their quarterback. Both sides were looking to redeem themselves.
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Brees, who was coming off a horrific shoulder injury in his final year with the then-San Diego Chargers, was looking to prove he could recover a become a top-notch quarterback. Not only were doctors worried about his recovery, but other teams passed up the chance to sign the free agent.
The Saints were looking for some respectability within the league and a chance to sign a quarterback of Brees’ ability had them well on their way to achieving that. It didn’t take long for the Saints to become a force to be reckoned with. And did they ever become a force.
Since their arrival in 2006, the Saints have won the NFC South division seven times, been to three conference championships, and won a Super Bowl back in 2010.
Brees for his part has been the catalyst and an absolute juggernaut with his play on the field. To go over every major stat that Brees holds a record for would be more suited for a book the size of an encyclopedia. Here a few highlights:
Brees is a 13-time Pro-bowler who holds the NFL record for most career passing yards, most pass completions, highest single-season completion percentage record, most consecutive games with a passing touchdown, most 5,000 yard seasons, and most completions in a season just to name a few.
He has also been named NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice in his illustrious career and he is second all-time in touchdown passes.
This however may pale in comparison to the philanthropic brilliance Brees has shown to the city of New Orleans throughout his time here. His Brees Dream Foundation, in association with other local charitable organizations, was instrumental in the recovery process following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
From the revitalizations of homes to building facilities of learning and play for kids, to funding for medical facilities and so much more, Brees and his foundation were there to lend a helping hand to those who were devastated and needed it the most.
Brees also remained active up close and not from a distance. Brees didn’t live in the suburbs or a secluded community far far away. Brees and his family planted right in New Orleans themselves becoming always symbiotic with the culture and vibrancy that the city brings.
Brees seemingly will always be a New Orleanian.
So yes, while a loss Sunday would sting for the New Orleans Saints and their fans a measure of gratitude should swell within us.
Gratitude for the blood, sweat, and tears Drew Brees has put into this city, this community, and this football team. While we know his playing career won’t last forever, the memory of his greatness will.