Let’s start with one simple fact: Drew Brees gave everything of himself to New Orleans and to the Saints. For 15 years the future Hall of Fame quarterback helped usher in an era of football that the city of New Orleans had never seen before. Perhaps, it will never be seen again.
Regardless, the negativity surrounding Brees after the 30-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round has been deafening. Yes, it was once again an early and disappointing playoff exit, this time at the hands of Tom Brady. But, since the very first season that Brees stepped foot in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome he has been a winner. A leader. A trend-setter. This false narrative and bastardization of his legacy over the last four playoff runs is not only short-sighted, but woefully ignorant.
In his 15 seasons with the Saints, Brees has helped lead New Orleans to nine different playoff appearances. Two of those seasons they made it to the NFC Championship the game, and one they won Super Bowl XLIV. Members of the fanbase and media are quick to forget that in 2017 Brees was phenomenal, and even he couldn’t stop a Minnesota Miracle from happening. 2018 was a similar story, but the referees couldn’t be asked to do their jobs. Additionally, the quarterback set and currently owns nearly every meaningful passing record in the league’s history. This is what Brees should be remembered for, not early playoff exits in 2019 and 2020. He especially doesn’t deserve to be called a “choke artist.”
Saints fans have become accustomed to winning, and with good reason. But, some younger fans have never experienced mediocrity with this team, save a few 7-9 seasons. If you’re curious about what it’s like not making the playoffs every single year just ask the Cleveland Browns fans or even Tampa supporters.
I grew up with Drew Brees at the quarterback of the Saints. He is what inspired me to write about the team. It was an absolute privilege to cover him all these years.— Kade Kistner (@KadeKistner) January 18, 2021
Thanks to Brees the Saints will now add another member to the Football Hall of Fame. They had a Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner. They gained an ambassador for the city of New Orleans like no other. And yet, we still have some fans and media members that would rather criticize Drew for these past four seasons than give praise to a man on his last day of work before retirement.
That being said, it seems like every season for the last few years the question is “will Brees retire?” Just like every season before, Drew has been tight-lipped on his upcoming decision. The quarterback has always maintained that he will continue to play as long as he feels he can effectively play at the level needed to win. Is he still capable of that at 42-years-old? Possibly. But this season just feels different. More finite. The end of an era.
It is worth noting that FOX’s Jay Glazer made a comment that said this was Brees’s final game in the Superdome. As many know, Glazer and Saints head coach Sean Payton are relatively close, as close as Payton can be with anyone in the media. Glazer has had inside information before, this seems like the final nail in the coffin for any hope that Brees could return.
That’s just it though. Brees should be revered by the fanbase and the city, he has done so much for the sport and New Orleans. But, is it time for him to hang up the cleats and call it a career? Should the Saints retool and begin to look forward to a new chapter for the franchise? 10-year-old Kade says absolutely not. But, sports writer Kade says it’s probably about time. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Brees saw a stark decline in his play this season. His grade for the 2021 season was nearly 20 points lower than any other season of his career. Some of that could be attributed to his 11 rib fractures he no doubt still felt even through the bout with the Buccaneers in the playoffs.
So, is there a scenario in which Brees could bring it back just one more time? Possibly. However, it would be a bridge year-type scenario in which Payton, Loomis and the rest of the front office don’t actually believe the future of the position is in the building. It would also mean New Orleans doesn’t pursue a Matthew Stafford or Deshaun Watson in the trade market. In that scenario, Brees could be brought back on a very team friendly deal and the Saints could try to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. With a year of development under his belt, that new quarterback could take the reigns from Brees at the start of the 2022 season. However, the chances of this happening are admittedly low, and unlikely at this point.
Fans need to buckle up and prepare for what now appears to be the most likely scenario: Jameis Winston taking the reigns in 2021. So with that, let’s all remember Brees for who and what he is as a football player and a man. He has arguably done more for the city of New Orleans than any other quarterback has done for any other city. His arrival was also in the middle of rebuilding and rebirth in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Just like the city, Brees helped usher in an era of rebirth for the Saints franchise. Without him (and Payton) this franchise would have looked significantly different. This is a winning team now. They have a winning mindset, nothing less is acceptable. The man responsible for that may have just played his last game in the Superdome on Sunday evening.
What are your favorite moments of Drew Brees? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner. Also, please subscribe to the Bleav in Saints podcast hosted by Delvin Breaux, Maddy Hudak and Kade Kistner