The Beatitude of Drew Brees
The press conference in 2006 which I covered was a moment of discernment, of curiosity, with many questions, one in which joy emanated but it was also a moment which we all reviewed.
Drew Brees elected to sign with the New Orleans Saints, a team coming off of a 3-13 season, coming off of a coaching change, in an area coming off of the decimation of Hurricane Katrina where our region clearly was screwed.
For years, the concept of a genuine, franchise quarterback, much less a good, consistent signal caller was defined in New Orleans by the word elude.
For the most part, those quarterbacks were scarce here. There was Archie Manning, a great talent who took a beating in a bad organization. There was Bobby Hebert, a fiery competitor who won many games. There was Aaron Brooks, a talented player who gave the Saints a playoff win. All had good moments and the latter pair led teams to playoff appearances, putting fans in a good mood.
Still, there were no great accomplishments and only one playoff victory in 40 years when Brees arrived. With the serious shoulder injury he suffered in San Diego, there were obvious and understandable questions about Brees being pursued.
Instead, Brees turned out to be precisely the right man at the right time in the right place, along with Sean Payton, to help pull an entire metropolitan area up from the doldrums of defeat and despair with a spirit renewed.
Brees won a Super Bowl championship and won the MVP in Super Bowl XLIV. In the final analysis, it was be hard for anyone to state honestly that Brees would turn out to be the elite talent which the Saints accrued.
It was the best move in franchise history. There are so many records to speak of, including being the all-time leader in NFL history in passing yards, the most completions in league history, the best completion percentage ever, second all-time in touchdown passes and he threw for 5,000 yards in five different seasons, the most ever. His accomplishments carry great magnitude.
The end for Brees was hard to watch, seeing him playing hurt, lacking the physical skills to remain elite, throwing three interceptions and losing a second half lead at home to Tampa Bay, a team the Saints had beaten twice and a team that would go on to win the Super Bowl. It left all Brees fans in a state of solitude.
The painful playoff losses to the Vikings, including the Minnesota Miracle and a deflating overtime home loss, along with the NOLA No-Call overtime loss to the Rams and the final game with Tampa Bay left all Saints and Brees fans a bit subdued.
Clearly, when Brees walked off the field against the Buccaneers, the end was in sight. We all knew that it was really over. To finally utter the words “I am retiring” had to take a great deal of fortitude.
Watching Brees was a pleasure. He was small for a quarterback and lacked true mobility. He did not have a big arm. He endured a career-threatening injury in San Diego and fought back. He somehow overcame odds and shortcomings with incredible study habits, an awesome work ethic, and the ability to process things quicker than just about anyone with amazing awareness and aptitude.
While Brees encountered one bump in the road for voicing an honest opinion prior to his final season, he endured rare, stinging criticism. Brees quickly recovered and rectified any misunderstanding or hard feelings with teammates who were seemingly quick to forgive as the man had earned a large degree of latitude.
The man was smart, he was a leader, he was always cooperative and congenial with media. Brees was good with fans and he was positive, even in losses, and would always accept responsibility when things did not go well. He was, and, hopefully, will continue to be great in the community. It is hard to find any area to be critical of Brees, to find a flaw in his character to exclude.
At the end of the day, or in this case, this commentary, there are not enough words or perhaps I have used too many words but Brees deserves every redundant platitude.
As we will no doubt hear, watch and see many tributes to No. 9 over the next several days, let us soak all of the material up by continuing to reminisce and to be thankful to and for Brees and express genuine gratitude.
While playing for the Saints, Brees and his wife, Brittany, saw four children born and raised, in part in New Orleans. Brees also spoke for us one year at the annual Allstate Sugar Bowl FCA Breakfast, doing so in inspiring, positive fashion about his faith. Jesus gave us eight beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. For New Orleans, Drew Brees was, in symmetry with the number he made famous, the ninth beatitude.
No. 9 will live forever in the hearts of Saints fans and will one day live in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Saints Hall of Fame and in the Saints Ring of Honor. Drew Brees was that dude.
**Ken Trahan serves as General Manager of the Saints Hall of Fame Museum, Inc.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…