To begin, I am not the sports/Saints writer for MyNewOrleans. That job goes to my colleague Chris Price. Then again, I’m also not the food writer here. Nor the travel writer. But I write about sports, food and travel in these pages a lot. It’s impossible not to if you live in south Louisiana.
What else is there? Politics. Meh.
That said, I’m gonna do one last paean to the Saints for this year. Or I could pull a Chris Price and throw the Saints and food into one pithy epitaph. He wrote this week that Drew Brees “had more influence on Monday moods in New Orleans since the advent of red beans and rice.”
Unfortunately, Brees lost the Geezer Bowl on Sunday. At age 42, he got best by a 43-year-old Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. Their combined age for quarterbacks in a playoff game was an unprecedented 85 years.
To put that into perspective, the AFC championship game this coming weekend between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills will feature a face off between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Their combined age is 49.
Six years older than Brady. Seven more than Brees. They were both getting their first bicycles for their birthdays when Brees and Brady suited up for their first NFL games.
Reviewing the high(low)lights of Sunday’s game, it’s clear that Brees is done. He was convicted of three interceptions. (Truth is, though, one of those balls hit tight end Jared Cook in the chest and bounced off. But the other two were simply, honestly, imperturbably – really bad passes.
It’s been clear for two seasons that Brees’ arm strength has diminished. Nobody runs into the Saints huddle anymore and says, “Let’s throw a bomb!” But accuracy has always been his jive. The kind of guy who can throw twenty passes in a row through a tire from twenty yards away.
Watching that game Sunday, it all seems lost to time now. I’m 60 and I could have picked off at least one of those passes. Thrown short, thrown behind, thrown soft.
Drew says he’s mulling retirement, but I think he might think more about mulling spices in retirement. This guy has been the savior of the Saints, our first true NFL GOAT, a first ballot Hall of Famer and all that, but it has been evident to anyone watching this season that he’s done.
And that’s OK. Tom Brady is bigger, stronger (and older) than Drew and he won the shoot-out convincingly. He is also a robot from another planet married to a supermodel. I’ll probably be 75 when he retires.
Drew is one of the leagues class acts. A role model, a philanthropist, a leader, a worker, a grinder and a hustler. I mean, holy hell: Who breaks eleven ribs and punctures a lung and plays an NFL football game a month later? Maybe no lung, but a helluva lot of heart.
Look, I get it. Every boy wants to play games. Like I said, I’m 60 but I still play baseball. Yes, baseball, not softball. It’s an Over-40 league called Diamond Dreams (not the name I would have picked; we sound like a jewelry store). I am not a big threat to the opposition. In my younger and more vulnerable years, I got invitations to try out for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.
You know how that turned out because I became a writer instead of an MLB star. In fact, my first story for the Washington Post was about my humiliation at the Pirates tryout. I figured if I wasn’t going to be a Major League star, I would write about not becoming a Major League star.
I spent my younger years at 3rd base and shortstop. Now, I can’t even throw the ball from 3rd base to 1st. I’m now at 2nd Base, 1st base and right field. Downgrade humiliation noted and accepted. Got no arm.
Maybe I’m the Drew Brees of old man baseball. But there’s not a lot riding on my old man shoulders. Just 10 or 12 other guys wishing I would play better, but that’s on them. I’m in it for fun.
And maybe the point of that digression was this: Drew, you’re 42 now. I know you live to compete. You qualify to play in our league now. Even on our team!
We’re called the Phillies. Look us up at Diamond Dreams or give me a shout and, hell – you can even take my spot in right field if it will help the team.
Because any team you are on is automatically helped. Good luck, young man with whatever path you take. Mulling, old man baseball or the broadcast booth. You did us a solid here in New Orleans. And you’ll never be forgotten.