To the top of the headlines that is.
Controversy sells, particularly in sports media. And controversy is the one thing Drew Brees hasn’t brought to the table in his brilliant, decade-long career.
From Tim Donaghy to Tiger Woods, “Big Mac” to “Pac Man,” nothing captures the public’s attention like stories about guys who violate the Ethical Code of Conduct that comes with being involved in professional athletics and more importantly, a role model and “hero” to thousands around the world.
But being a true hero isn’t all about being able to slam-dunk, throw a ball, or shoot a puck better than anyone else. It’s about saying and doing all the right things, on and off the field of play.
Drew Brees matches that description: He is a hero, and so much more.
He’s a saint in every sense of the word—the least of which applying to football dialogue.
The Brees Dream Foundation established in 2003, has raised nearly $5 million to help rebuild New Orleans’ neighborhoods, schools, playgrounds, and athletic fields left devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Drew Brees regularly visits children’s hospitals around Louisiana.
And if you’re reading this article, it’s a safe bet you’ve either heard or read his recent comments about coming to New Orleans in 2006: his “calling” to rebuild not just the Saints’ franchise but the entire city and region.
Have you ever heard any other athlete say anything remotely like that?
But here’s the bigger question: Why did it take so long for Drew Brees to get the national attention he’s deserved as one of the NFL’s top performers?
After all, he’s done almost as many things right on the field as he has off for the past six years.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t date super models or give the media controversial quotes.
Hell, he’s never even taken a Mexican vacation with a famous girlfriend the week before a playoff game.
Or maybe it’s just because, well, let's be honest: playing quarterback in San Diego and New Orleans doesn’t receive the endless amount of media coverage and scrutiny that comes with playing for, let's say, the Dallas Cowboys.
But now, finally, Drew Brees is unquestionably viewed as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. As these statistics indicate, it’s a distinction that he’s been due for quite some time.
Here’s where Brees ranks against all active NFL quarterbacks since 2004:
Touchdowns: Second with 173
Passing yards: Second with 25,033
QB rating: Second with 97.57
Wins: Fourth with 59
But Peyton, Brady, and “Big Ben” all have a least one Super Bowl victory. Drew Brees didn’t have one before last Sunday.
But he does now.
And that changes everything.
Drew Brees is now a household name to sports fans everywhere, known as one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
And everyone’s all smiles.
And yes, Drew Brees will continue to bring a countless amount of smiles to the faces of people in New Orleans. Of course, his mastery on the football field will only account for a fraction of them.
But now, after so many years, it’s Brees’ turn to smile with the NFL’s greatest prize in his hands.
And with that trophy comes the hard-earned respect he’s deserved for so long.