Brees greatness undeniable, despite scoffers
Critics are there to analyze and even bash great players.
You can recollect the many criticisms.
Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly could not win the big one. John Elway did not do so until the end of his career when he had a great running game. Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre only one the big one once. Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr hung around too long. Ben Roethlisberger holds the ball too long. Terry Bradshaw threw too many interceptions and had great players around him. Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham and Sid Luckman cannot be compared to modern era players. Even Tom Brady is more of a “system” guy.
That said, you cannot deny the greatness of those mentioned.
In my mind, there are 13 quarterbacks who deserve recognition as being among the best of all-time who are not named Drew Brees.
Here is the list and why they get more attention and recognition than Brees, typically speaking.
Tom Brady—Five Super Bowl wins, four Super Bowl MVP awards
Joe Montana—Joe Cool, four Super Bowl titles, clutch performer
John Elway—Physical phenom, unreal arm
Peyton Manning—Tall, record breaker, famous name, won Super Bowls with two teams
Dan Marino—big arm, quick release, awesome numbers
Aaron Rodgers—Big, amazing athlete, huge arm, extends plays
Sammy Baugh—Slinging nickname, led NFL in many categories many times, seven-time All-Pro
Johnny Unitas—best of his era, helped revolutionize the position, three-time NFL MVP
Brett Favre—Rocket arm, riverboard gambler
Ben Roethlisberger—Two Super Bowl titles, Big Ben
Terry Bradshaw—big arm and personality, four Super Bowl titles
Otto Graham—Nine-time All-Pro
Bart Starr—Five-time NFL champion, great leader
There are others worthy of mention as well, including Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach, Steve Young, Warren Moon and Fran Tarkenton. Russell Wilson is on his way to cracking the list as well.
In this era, even two others have received more recognition than Brees as Cam Newton and Matt Ryan have earned Most Valuable Player honors. Brees never has, despite his amazing, consistently excellent annual performances.
Tom Brady is the very best. His numbers and accomplishments cannot be denied with five Super Bowl titles and an even longer career than Brees, to this point.
Then there is Drew Brees.
You have heard all of the scoffers.
Brees plays indoors and that gives him an advantage. He plays for a pass-happy coach which allows him to put up good numbers. He is a product of a great system. He is not tall enough or physically gifted enough. He gets rid of the ball quickly. Washington’s secondary was horrendous.
On Monday night, there was at least one commentator on NFL Network who spent more time talking about who was better than Brees than about Brees and his amazing accomplishment.
As my grandfather would say, that is pure poppycock!
This man overcame a devastating injury which could easily have ended his career. He started over in a city on its knees for a franchise that went 3-13 the previous year, with a new coach and a bunch of new players.
While Brees has been surrounded by good skill players, name one great player whom he has played with?
His best receiver was Marques Colston, a very good player who never made a Pro Bowl. Lance Moore was a good player who never made a Pro Bowl. Joe Horn was an elite guy but played less than a year with Brees. Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem had speed but neither made a Pro Bowl. Jeremy Shockey was a good, not great player. The same is true of Brandin Cooks. Deuce McAllister was very good but often hurt when Brees was here. Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles were good players. Mark Ingram is a good player.
The only elite players at their positions that Brees has had here were Jimmy Graham, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara and Graham has been gone since the end of the 2014 season. Thomas and Kamara arrived when Brees was 38, going on 39.
The truest sign of a great player is one who makes others around him better. In New Orleans, Brees has made others better. That is clear. He is a natural leader. He has overcome the injury and overcome his lack of height. For that matter, he has overcome the lack of a big arm.
While Brady, Rodgers and Roethlisberger continue to perform at a high level, is any performing at a higher level than Brees?
What further evidence of Brees’ greatness is needed?
He has led the NFL in passing yards seven times, led the league in completions six times and led in touchdown passes four times. He has led the league in passing yards per game six times and led the league in quarterback rating in 2009. He was a unanimous first-team All-Pro in 2006 and made first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2009 by The Sporting News. He has made the Pro Bowl 11 times, including 10 times with the Saints.
Since becoming a Saint, Brees has led all NFL quarterbacks in touchdowns, passing yards and 300-yard passing games. He holds the NFL record for career pass completions, career completion percentage and he is fourth in passing touchdowns and is sure to move up on that list.
In 2012, Brees broke the long-standing record of Unitas for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (48), also doing that in front of the home fans.
For good measure, Brees has passed for over 5,000 yards in a season five times, far ahead of all others as no other NFL quarterback has ever done so more than once. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV.
Now, he is the all-time leader in league history in passing yards.
Then, there is Brees, the person.
He has been consistent in his approach, consistent in his words and is the consummate family man. He is a natural leader, universally respected by his teammates and coaches and by those in our business who cover him. His consistency on the field is there as well.
In my mind, Brees is clearly one of the ten best quarterbacks in NFL history, if not one of the top five. He has earned the accolades he has received. For those who refuse to recognize his greatness, that is your prerogative. Somehow, I don’t think it will affect Brees one bit. He is secure and we are secure in the knowledge that he is truly one of the greats of the game. Let us rejoice and be glad in it and enjoy it while we can.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…