Who dat sayin’ eaux neaux ‘bout Drew Brees?

February 10, 2010 at 12:15 am | Posted in NFL | Leave a comment
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So, football season’s finally over. The miraculous, misfit Saints bested the golden boys of the National Football League, the Colts. Was I surprised? Why, yes. Yes I was. I totally foresaw a Colts win, because I thought the NFL would never do anything to harm the legacy of their last pristine arbiter of America’s true pass-time: football. I mean, who else could be its emissary in the Digital Age other than Peyton Manning?

It can’t be Tom Brady; his legacy tumbled after the bone collapsing defeat to the New York Giants two years ago, and subsequent baby-mama drama.

It can’t be LaDainian Tomlinson (I refuse to call him LT; only Lawrence Taylor is LT); he’s too whiny and his team never dominated.

It can’t be Ben Roethlisberger; you aren’t the poster boy for anything after having been accused of rape, guilty or not.

No, it can only be Peyton Manning, the greatest #1 overall pick in the history of football, or so they would tell you. Wait. What’s that? Who do you think could be the emissary of the NFL now, invisible sidekick? Who? Drew Brees? Really?

Well, I suppose. I mean, maybe. He does seem to be the model of overcoming adversity. Consider:

He played for a lowly ranked Purdue college football team and brought them to the Rose Bowl in 2001, which was not a small achievement.

He is undersized for an NFL quarterback (he is 6’ with cleats on, which is quite diminutive compared to his compatriots at the position).

He was drafted by, and played for, the San Diego Chargers; in the last game of the 2005 season, he had his throwing shoulder destroyed while trying to recover a fumble. After sacrificing his arm for the team in this meaningless game, the Chargers parted ways with their maligned quarterback in favor of starting his expensive back-up: Philip Rivers. While this move surprised no one, and had been in the cards for some time, it left Brees with few options.

This left the once underestimated Drew Brees even less desirable, with only two teams mildly interested in his abilities: the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. But the Dolphins scared him away with numerous tests and callous questions regarding his surgically rebuilt shoulder. This left only ‘Nawlins’.

According to lore, the newly minted coach of the Saints in 2006, Sean Payton, wanted Drew Brees more than anyone else in the organization, and drove the QB through the recently decimated city of New Orleans, asking him to help rebuild the spirit of the once proud city. Both men were desperate in different ways. Payton had the monumental task of rebuilding a disaster of a franchise, and Brees was ‘damaged goods’ looking for anyone to take him. Brees signed on that day, likely considering that the Saints to be his only option.

Now, four years after these events, Drew Brees stands upon the mountain top, while Philip Rivers remains with 0 Super Bowl appearances, and the Miami Dolphins haven’t even sniffed the Big Game since Dan Marino’s heyday in the 80’s and early 90’s. Brees is now considered on the same plateau as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but he’s the only one with a perfect 1-0 Super Bowl record, versus Peyton Manning’s 1-1 and Tom Brady’s 3-1 record. He also plays with low-round draft picks and undrafted free agents, making them stars much the same way Manning and Brady have done in their careers. He is, at the very least, the emissary of the NFC. Only consistency can keep him there.

Brees bested the NFL’s most marketable player, so he’ll automatically be considered more marketable than Manning, right?

Almost certainly not. While he has graciousness, class, and a great story, he lacks one thing that Peyton Manning has: self-promotion. Manning’s funny. He can poke fun at himself. He’s good off the cuff. He’s the NFL’s politician. This is not to say Manning is not worthy. Brees is a great guy, but his personality is more in the mold of Kurt Warner: a humble, faithful example of the best the NFL has to offer to those who have the perseverance to succeed.

So, while Manning may have lost a Super Bowl, he will never lose what makes him recognizable:

His endorsements.

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