January 20th of this year marked the 10-year anniversary of the immaculate AMC drama Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad is one of my favorite shows of all time, so much so that in addition to having watched the series through at least twice, I even bought Alan Sepinwell’s companion book, Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion. To put it simply, Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston put on one of the greatest achievements in television and the show was chock-full of wonderful moments throughout its five-year run.
Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, then consider this a spoiler alert.
There’s one moment in the show specifically I think relates to Saints quarterback Drew Brees and where he stands at this very point in his career. In “Buyout”, the sixth episode of season five, Jesse and Mike want out of the meth business. This isn’t like previous instances where someone wants out of the business, this time they both mean it. Mike is too old for the DEA to be tailing him all day and night, and Jesse’s soul is shaken after Todd shoots and kills a kid that just so happened to see some of their illegal shenanigans. Jesse comes to Walt with a proposed buyout offer from a competing meth dealer to the sum of $5 million each. Walt staunchly refuses because the amount of money he’s sitting on is pushing $300 million and he’s refusing to sell out and take pennies on the dollar.
We come to find out that Walt as a younger man was in a similar situation and he’s not making the same mistake twice. A company he helped found is worth a little over $2.5 billion “with a ‘B’” as Walt says, but Walter sold his share in the early stages for a mere five grand. Jesse asked Walter earlier in the episode if the two of them are in the meth business or the money business and Walt responds in kind: “Neither. I’m in the empire business.”
This is all a long ways of saying that Drew Brees is undoubtedly a Hall of Fame quarterback, five years to the second he decides to hang up the cleats. Brees will almost definitely retire with every major passing record to his claim, a Super Bowl MVP and numerous time All-Pro/Pro Bowl quarterback. But as Brees heads into year 19 in the league and year 12 in New Orleans, Brees isn’t in the money making business or the passing record business. Brees is trying to expand upon his own empire.
Brees has absolutely nothing to prove career wise. That said, consider what a second Super Bowl would do for his immortality. There’s just something about having multiple titles on a resume. Brett Favre was great but hardly anyone would put him above guys like Joe Montana, John Elway, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Even today, Brees is always at least the third guy mentioned in the “best quarterback today” debate behind Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Recently, Sunday Night Football put out a Twitter poll asking who was the best in the game, and the choices were Brady, Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Carson Wentz. For some reason or another, Brees is always overlooked. But if he can win a second Super Bowl?
One Super Bowl makes a player immortal. A second makes him invincible. Think of it this way, with the way the game is played and the rules being geared more toward offense, the passing statistics seem a bit inflated. And years from now, someone will almost definitely remember Drew Brees and say he was the product of an era that allowed for passing numbers like that. As for his one and only Super Bowl? Well...I mean Joe Flacco and Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson have also won a Super Bowl too, you know? And the #actually crowd could say that anyone can be lucky one. But there’s no denying winning titles, plural.
Again, there is nothing Brees needs to do in whatever years remain in his career. A second title would be the definition of lagniappe. Brees’ place in history will not be harmed at all if he never gets that second Super Bowl. But a second Super Bowl puts him on a tier away from Favre or *ahem* options B, C and D on SNF’s twitter poll.
We are in the twilight of Brees’ career. This 2018 season might be Brees’ best chance left to build upon his empire. In one sense, if Brees retires only as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and the owner of a Super Bowl title, that’s as good as any career any player’s ever had.
But Brees’ story is in the waning chapters, not the final paragraph. And a second Super Bowl would secure Brees’ empire.