Drew Brees, a GOAT’s Tale

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

 

Drew Brees. What’s left to be said about him? Probably not much, but I’m gonna try.

For starters, I hate the term GOAT. Greatest Of All Time. It really chaps me, but maybe that’s because I grew up being part-time parented by Charles Schulz and his Peanuts cartoons and comics, and every time that Charlie Brown did something wrong – which was every time Charlie Brown did something – all the other members of the Peanuts tribe would call him a goat.

Snoopy even brays at him in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special – the best television show ever made, by the way. (Or, I suppose you could call it the GOAT of Christmas specials?)

But yeah, on Monday night, Drew sealed his fate as the GOAT of NFL quarterbacks. There are no more quarterback records for him to break. He has them all. Passing, yards, touchdowns, completions, injuries, whatever. He’s got them. Which you never would have figured to come from a guy of his (physical) stature and (lack of) physical grace, compared to others in the GOAT conversation.

He doesn’t have the moxie, the unhingedness – or the stubble – of Brett Favre. He doesn’t have the legs and daring of Aaron Rodgers. He doesn’t have the pedigree – nor the height – of Peyton Manning. He doesn’t have the imperturbability nor the Adonis features of Tom Brady.

But in the end, he smokes them all. Drew Brees is a classic study in hard work. Determination. Preparation. And healing – a torn ACL in high school, a torn labrum and rotator cuff in San Diego, torn ligaments in his throwing hand this season. There’s a lot to be said for healing.

It also helps to have Michael Thomas on your team, a man who seems to be constitutionally incapable of dropping a pass. And it didn’t hurt to have Marques Colston around for all those years. And he’s just simply a good man, a good citizen, a great American.

I have written in the past about my differences with him on matters of alignment with a so-called “Christian” organization for whom he abides, but if I were judged on some of my past associations, well, let’s just say I would be an alumnus of Georgetown Prep high school in Maryland who would not be fit to serve on the Supreme Court – as my fellow alumni Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh do.

Life is funny and strange that way. As that prior paragraph duly notes. And it’s complicated. And heroes are hard to find these days. Role models. Men – and women – who you’d want your kids to grow up to be.

Truthfully, I’d like my kids to grow up to be Jimmy Buffett because that dude lives at sea with a shoes-optional lifestyle and when he opens his guitar case, 70,000 people come running with hundred dollar bills in their hands ready to fellowship in laughter and song and he even created his own fictional country – Margaritaville – where all are welcome to live and no worries similarly abide.

I could chill on their boat.

But nobody else gets to be Jimmy Buffet. Or Drew Brees. Men of rarified air.

One of the perhaps lesser known aspects of Drew’s character is that he is a stat geek. He knows every record in the book, and he has spent his life trying to break them. Which can seem somewhat conceited but, as long as you put the team first, then what the hell? Run it up.

And it’s not a pursuit of the record book that allows you to complete 29 out of 30 passes, as Drew did on Monday night, a statistic no one else has even approached. That is just plain greatness. And freakishness, to be honest. Who the hell does that?

I could throw 30 passes without anybody even defending them and surely not complete 29. When asked after the game about the lone misfire he threw, his response was pure Drew: “My bad. I should’ve completed that one.”

That’s OK, Drew. We’ll let it slide.

Sure, there are a couple guys in the league right now – the Ravens Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes come to mind – who might smite Drew’s records in the future. There’s also a young man in Baton Rouge you might have heard of named Joe Burrow who could eclipse them all.

But that will take 15 years, at least, maybe 20, for any of them to get close – and a hell of a lot of good fortune and good health.

Which is another part of Drew’s amazing story. People may forget sometimes that he came to New Orleans as a wounded animal in 2006, discarded by the San Diego Chargers. He had just had the kind of shoulder surgery that ends most careers in professional sports. And he came to a wounded city, to be sure.

Two peas, right?

But look at Drew now. And look at New Orleans now. Both transformed into the pantheon of legends. Player and Playground.

It all seems fitting for both him and the city. Slow, undersized, written off, presumed to be washed up, easily underestimated, the best days in the past, mistaken for misfits.

Ashes, meet Phoenix.

But there’s still one last chapter to this book. Miami is where the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010. It’s where the Super Bowl is this season. And it’s a city where, if you play it right, shoes are optional.

In the stars – and sand – it is written.

 

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