On March 14, 2006, the New Orleans Saints officially signed Drew Brees to become their franchise quarterback, in a deal that seemed routine at the time. In retrospect, it was a signing that changed the landscape of one man's career as well as the fortunes of a franchise and a city. The initial Brees contract was worth 6 years, $60 million, an absolute steal considering the production and leadership to come. Of course, that would be paid for in his second contract.
Brees has gone on to set countless records which could very well warrant an article of their own. He delivered New Orleans and the Saints hope, renewal, and a Super Bowl title. Not bad for a "short-armed midget", as some have said. He was never "the guy", or the first choice for most teams, but he was exactly what the Saints and New Orleans needed right when they needed it most. The Drew Brees signing is arguably the best free agent signing in NFL history.
I'll start the conversation:
I'll admit I thought the Drew Brees signing was good, but not great. To think Brees would accomplish even a fraction of what he has would've been unimaginable. I didn't see the press conference as it happened, but I did see most of the footage earlier that evening on ESPN. He sold me then, and I was on board with as far as he could take the Saints. He seemed genuinely grateful to come to New Orleans and be the Saints' QB. That was beyond encouraging, especially at that time.
I had seen a good bit of Brees during his time in San Diego since CBS aired virtually every Chargers game here in Los Angeles. I always liked Brees and felt that he played above his stature, I just didn't think he had top 3 QB potential, well, I'm delighted to be wrong about that. His shoulder injury worried me... a lot. I remember watching that game against Denver and thinking he might not be the same, and I felt bad for him. He just always seemed like a "good guy", and what the Saints needed at that time were honest-to-goodness "good guys" in the locker room.
To think that despite everything against him, the city, and the organization, Brees would develop into the icon he has become is almost unfathomable. I honestly thought Brees could get the Saints to be a consistent playoff contender, and maybe pick up a few playoff wins in his time here. He'd likely be an All-Pro and modestly set some Saints passing records if healthy during his time. Those were my hopes, and I didn't expect much more than that. Expectations were obviously blown away.
It started as a day where a downtrodden NFL franchise signed a good, solid quarterback in hopes of turning around their fortunes. The short quarterback with the busted shoulder joined the long-suffering franchise who were homeless just a season before his arrival. It was a mutually beneficial signing between two parties looking to complete an unlikely comeback story. The story, although still being written, has been a rousing success. That day is now remembered at the day that changed the fortunes of a man, a franchise, and a fanbase.
Drew Brees may not have "saved New Orleans" but his efforts and his presence have been a significant part of a much larger effort. So I ask you, Who Dat Nation, where were you on that historic day? Tell us your stories, memories and impressions from that historic signing on its eighth anniversary.