No-Brainer: Drew Brees belongs in discussion of greatest QBs ever

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon

Drew Brees

By now, you have heard all of the accolades and arguments surrounding where Drew Brees ranks in the history of the NFL.

Many have given Brees his due and have included him in the pantheon of the very best to ever play the game. Others have at least placed him in the discussion.

Then, there are the critics, even the haters.

In this great country, all are welcome to express their opinions. It is a God-given right and a basic tenet of the republic we live in, thank the good Lord.

I have stated throughout my adult life that I truly respect all points of view, provided people have sound rationale attached to their thought process. Being a good listener is an important element to learning and becoming more informed. Studying and preparing diligently to make a case is imperative.

When considering where Brees deserved to be placed among those who have played the quarterback position in outstanding fashion, there are many discussion points which are constantly brought up.

First, there is the “ring” discussion.

In many instances, many who venture an opinion on players do so based on the number of championships won.

Team sports are all about winning games, ultimately winning championships.

Many greats in all sports have not been part of a championship team, through no fault of their own.

Karl Malone was perhaps the best power forward in NBA history. He never won a ring.

Dan Marino was an amazing passer who set records. He never won a ring.

Ted Williams was perhaps the best hitter in baseball history. He never won a ring.

Is there anyone who would debate the greatness of these players? Do they deserve to be mentioned among the very best in their respective sports?

Bart Starr won a pair of Super Bowls. So did Bob Griese. Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls and Troy Aikman won three. Jim Plunkett won a pair of Super Bowls.

I loved the Packers and Bart Starr. He was a natural leader and very good, surrounded by a host of eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame players, including Forrest Gregg, Jerry Kramer, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung and Jim Ringo, along with a Hall of Fame coach in Vince Lombardi. The Packer defense was great in that period.

Griese was a smart game manager, surrounded by great players. He was a fine leader as well, surrounded by Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield, Jim Langer and Larry Little. The Dolphin defense was superb in that time frame.

I was a Steelers fan in the 1970’s. Bradshaw was strong-armed and tough. He was surrounded by Hall of Fame Players in Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster, along with a Hall of Fame coach in Chuck Noll. The Steel Curtain defense was perhaps the best ever.

Aikman was a very good player who was also tough. He was surrounded by great players who would make the Hall of Fame in Emmitt Smith, Larry Allen and Michael Irvin.

Plunkett was a mostly average player who was good in the right moments with good teams. He had great players around him who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Art Shell and Marcus Allen.

I would take Brees over each of those players as an NFL quarterback. Is there anyone that Brees has played with as a Saint (offensively) that will ever make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Let us see what happens with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara down the road but otherwise, it is safe to say that the only other players that would be in the discussion are Jahri Evans and Jimmy Graham.

If winning the Super Bowl is the litmus test, how do we view Trent Dilfer, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler, Nick Foles, Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson and Joe Flacco? Each is a Super Bowl winning quarterback.

I would most certainly take Brees over each of those players as an NFL quarterback.

Peyton Manning is among the greatest of all time and his second Super Bowl win had little to do with his play. He was 13-of-23 for 141 yards and an interception in Denver’s 24-10 victory over Carolina in 2016. In his second Super Bowl appearance, he was outplayed by Brees and the Saints.

Incidentally, when Brees was on the biggest stage, he earned Super Bowl MVP honors in Super Bowl XLIV with a stellar performance, going 32-of-39 for 288 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Then, there is the argument about winning MVP awards.

Cam Newton, Rich Gannon, Joe Theismann, Roman Gabriel, Bert Jones, Y.A. Tittle, Norm Van Brocklin, Boomer Esiason and Steve McNair all won NFL MVP awards once. With all due respect, is there anyone on that list more accomplished than or better than Drew Brees?

I made the argument in 2009 that Brees should have won the MVP award.

The Saints started 13-0 and Brees was 13-2 as a starter. He led the league in completion percentage (70.6%), in touchdown passes (34) and in Quarterback Rating (109.6). He was named first team All-Pro by The Sporting News. He guided the Saints to the top-seed in the NFC and eventually, a Super Bowl championship. Peyton Manning won the award, though Brees had the better numbers overall. Manning’s Colts were 14-2 and he led them to the top-seed in the AFC after starting 14-0. Both were certainly deserving.

Had the vote been taken after the Super Bowl, how would it have gone? In retrospect, both were deserving but my vote would have gone to Brees and I am a huge fan of Peyton and friends with the Manning family.

For what it is worth, Brees finished second in the NFL MVP voting in 2006 and 2011 as well.

Then, there is the argument about longevity, that the numbers are a result of playing a long time and throwing the ball frequently for a pass-happy coach.

There is something to be said about a player who can play a long time and play at a consistently high level.

Brees is not just hanging around.

Nearing the age of 40 and in his 18th season in the NFL, Brees has arguably put up the best five-game stretch of his career, completing 77.9 percent of his passes (148-of-190), best in the league, for 1,658 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions and a Quarterback Rating of 122.3, best in the league.

Then, there is the “indoor” factor.

We have all heard the claims that Brees has benefited from playing a preponderance of games in perfect conditions in a Dome. For that matter, he plays a game in a Dome in Georgia annually as well.

Of course, Peyton Manning also played the preponderance of his games indoors as well with the Colts. With all due respect to Peyton, who deserves all due respect, we do not hear that argument nearly as much about what he accomplished.

Tom Brady is the best of all-time with Joe Montana close behind, in my estimation. Peyton Manning is in the conversation as well and should be. So is John Elway.

Brees is not finished yet. Neither is Brady. While records are made to be broken and the league rule changes certainly favor quarterbacks putting up better numbers, Brady and Brees continue to move the goalposts further down the field and thus, less attainable for those outstanding signal callers to come.

Does Drew Brees belong in the conversation?

In my humble opinion, he most certainly does.

  • < PREV Tulane hits bye week with QB decision at forefront
  • NEXT > Byrd Game Notes 2018: Week 7 at Parkway
Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

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…

Read more >