Last off-season, at the age of 35, Saints quarterback Drew Brees made headlines when he said he wanted to play in the NFL until the age of 45.
"No doubt. There's no question," Brees said, in a private moment. "I'm not getting ahead myself, like it's a pipe dream, at 45. I understand the challenges that come along with that. But why not? If I can stay healthy, and I'm having fun and playing at a high level, why wouldn't I wanna do that? The biggest challenge is physically, the maintenance, the recovery, the way you train. You gotta hope that you stay healthy, but why not?"
Most of us laughed it off as Drew being a bit too optimistic. After all, the NFL has never had a 45-year old quarterback. Yet this summer, when asked about those comments a year ago, he hasn't really backed down. Brees still thinks playing well into his 40s is a real possibility.
"Do I think that's possible? Yes, absolutely. Could that happen? Yes. Would I love for that to happen? Yes. I'm not naïve to knowing that I'm on a series of one-year contracts, just like everyone else in the league. I feel like I can find that juice. I've got it. It's there. I'll keep having fun and keep slinging it around."
Oh, Drew. You silly son-of-a-bitch. We know Brees is an incredible athlete who treats his body like a temple. I don't doubt that Brees himself thinks he can play nine or ten more years of football. But what's realistic for us to expect?
I really want to believe Brees can do it. The obvious major factor will be his health, and whether he could remain relatively injury-free. Outside of that, his decision to retire will ultimately come when he feels he's no longer playing at an acceptable level. Therein lies the answer to our question. Which really just raises more questions the most important of which is: when will Drew Brees himself think he's declined?