The New Orleans Saints are less than 10 days away from the beginning of their 2017 regular season. On September 11, the Saints will face the Minnesota Vikings in the first Monday night football game of the season. Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to kickoff series today by featuring arguably the greatest player to wear No. 9 in the history of the NFL.
Jake Delhomme (QB, 1999)
Delhomme was an undrafted free agent signed into the Saints practice squad in 1997, then playing for a year in NFL Europe before spending another year on the practice squad in 1998. After quarterbacking the Frankfurt Galaxy to a championship during another NFL Europe season in 1999, Delhomme returned to the Saints, where he would finally get to start 2 regular season games during the '99 season. The Saints went 1-1 in Delhomme's starts, as he threw for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding another 2 rushing scores.
Delhomme sat as a 3rd string quarterback to Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks during the 2000 season (switching to No. 12), finally leaving New Orleans after the 2002 season to sign with the Carolina Panthers. Delhomme would go on to have a solid 7-year career with the Panthers, leading them to the playoffs 3 times and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII, where he would throw for 323 yards and 3 scores in a losing effort.
Drew Brees (QB, 2006-current)
Drew Brees has served as a backup quarterback to Doug Flutie (twice), was passed up by 31 teams in the 2001 NFL draft, was allowed to leave as a free agent in favor of Philip Rivers, and passed on as a free agent by the Miami Dolphins. I'll let that marinate for a moment...
Fast forward 12 years, 101 victories, 10 Pro Bowls, 5 playoff berths, a Super Bowl championship, and a Super Bowl MVP later, and Saints fans should send a Christmas card to thank the Chargers organization every year.
Brees' career in New Orleans started off with some doubt. When the former Purdue All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist tore the labrum and rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder during his final game as a Charger, there was even some doubt if he'd ever have the same effectiveness as he entered free agency. When only the Chargers and Dolphins showed mild interest, Brees made the decision to continue his career, and move his family, to a New Orleans region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina less than a year before. Teaming with a first time unproven coach named Sean Payton in 2006, the Saints shocked the world with a division title and their first appearance in the NFC title game. Three years later, Brees and the Saints brought a championship to the Crescent City, with a 31-17 triumph over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Brees has led the NFL in pass completions 4 times, and finished in the top 5 in that category 7 other times. Nine times he has finished in the top 5 in touchdown passes, leading the league four times. Brees has been among the NFL's top 3 in passing yards in ten of the last 11 years, and 7 of those times has led the league. Only eight times in NFL history has a player thrown for over 5,000 yards in a season, and Brees owns 5 of those 8 marks. Peyton Manning's 5,477 yards passing in 2013 is the only total higher than Brees' 5,476 in 2011 *(statisticians had to go back and review Manning's game film in '13 to adjust his total yardage, the adjustment resulted in Manning being awarded the higher yardage total).
Brees' record as a starting quarterback in New Orleans is 101-73. He holds the franchise record in nearly every passing category, and has a lengthy list of NFL records to his name.
Here are some of Brees' more prestigious league records:
- 11 consecutive 4,000 yard passing seasons (3 straight 5,000+)
- most games in one season of over 300 yards passing — 13
- 9 consecutive games of over 300 yards passing
- 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass (breaking a 52-yr. old record held by Johnny Unitas)
- 7 touchdown passes in a single game (shared by eight players)
- Total games with over 300 yards passing — 106
- Total games with over 400 yards passing — 15
Brees has 66,111 yards passing in his career and 465 total touchdown passes. Both marks currently sit as third best in NFL history, behind only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. He needs 74 touchdown passes to surpass Manning at the top of the league's all-time list. With 5,829 passing yards, Brees will pass Manning for the top spot on the NFL's all-time passing list.
Drew Brees is a New Orleans icon, a sure fire Hall of Famer that is not only arguably the best player in Saints history, but also among the greatest quarterbacks in the history of professional football.
Other Saints players to wear No. 9: Happy Feller (1972-73), George Winslow (1989), Tommy Kramer (1990)
Our poll today will be a little different from some of the others we've run during our countdown. Enjoy!
Who is the best player to wear No. 9 in NFL history?
This poll is closed
Sonny Jurgenson (QB; Eagles/Redskins)
Steve McNair (QB; Oilers/Titans/Ravens)
Drew Brees (QB; Chargers/Saints)