Drew Brees came into the NFL after playing his college days in Indiana playing for the Purdue Boilermakers. While playing there Brees learned it wasn’t so bad to fly under the radar. In San Diego he was touted as the next great quarterback and then five years later, as his free agent year approached, was quickly set aside for a younger, fresher model named Phillip Rivers coming out of NC State.
Brees had what most thought was a respectable season, throwing for 3576 yards and posting a QB rating of 89.2 and 24 touchdowns. Most thought this was about where Brees numbers should be since he had many options at the time. From A healthy Ladanian Tomlinson with Michael Turner backing him up and solid receivers including tight end Antonio Gates Brees had a lot of help.
Charger GM AJ Smith wasn’t convinced Brees was a winner
A.J. Smith let Brees walk at the end of his contract in 2005 and that was when the disharmony between Smith and then head coach Marty Shottenheimer began in earnest. Shottenheimer was mortified that Smith could let Brees walk with five years of experience under his belt and opt to start Phillip Rivers who had no experience in the NFL. The Chargers went 14-2 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion, the New England Patriots. Smith considered himself correct in his assessment of Rivers and promptly fired Shottenheimer after he had finished first in his division.
Drew Brees walks into a Hurricane, Katrina that is…
Drew Brees first full month as the New Orleans Saints starting quarterback was trying to say the least. Hurricane Katrina arrived just after Brees did in New Orleans. She arrived in town on August 29th with category 3 size winds and rain that led to over 50 breaches in canals levees and waterways surrounding the New Orleans area. Drew Brees was the perfect man for the job when the New Orleans Saints hired him. He became the figure head to recovery for the entire state. Not only on the field but Brees was heavily involved off the field also.
Brees was nominated by award winning Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King as Sportsman of the Year (Derek Jeter won) in nominating Brees, King stated in his column, “Brees does not have a Super Bowl ring to his name, but he is the most productive passer in the NFL, statistically, since coming to New Orleans in free agency in 2006. But that’s not why I’m saying he deserves to be Sportsman of the Year. I’m saying it because no athlete in any sport has meant more to his community in the last five years than Drew Brees has meant to New Orleans.” Read the article in it’s entirety here.
“Brees has raised over 1.8 million dollars and with matching funds a total of 3.6 million dollars with his Brees Dream Foundation.” according to King, who went on to add, “When a local teacher told Saints PR man Greg Bensel that it might be nice if Brees could sign something for a 5-year-old student with cancer, Brees said, “Give me his number. I’ll call him and his parents.”
In the days following Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans Saints home field, the Louisiana Superdome was a shelter during Katrina and suffered over 140 million dollars damage. The New Orleans Saints first month of the season was without a home. The response from fans around the country was to adopt the Saints as America’s team and it was tough to root against them.
Brees performance on the field is second to none since he has taken over the helm of the New Orleans Saints
Brees since taking the job of quarterback for the New Orleans Saints has dominated defenses in both conferences. Brees has thrown for over 4400 yards in each of his last three seasons. Including 5069 yards passing last year. Brees also threw for 88 touchdowns in his first three years with the Saints.
The amazing distinction between Drew Brees and his counterparts, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, is not one receiver on the Saints had more than 1000 yards receiving last year. Brees lowest QB rating since playing in New Orleans is 89.4 and he actually had a identical ratings of 96.3 in 2006 and 2008.
Between Brees performance on the field and his performance in the local community of New Orleans, it appears Brees was the perfect person to combat the perfect storm Hurricane Katrina. The combination of revitalizing a dying franchise in the New Orleans Saints and digging in to save a reeling community in New Orleans proper the final score– Drew Brees 1 Hurricane Katrina 0.