Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Brees, a two-time Heisman finalist, Big Ten MVP, Maxwell Award winner, Academic All-America Player of the Year, and a 2001 Rose Bowl appearance at Purdue, was sliding down the 2001 NFL Draft board.
The Dolphins were up with the 26th pick. They had just gone through their first season without Dan Marino (some referred to it as 1 A.D. for “After Dan”) and while Jay Fiedler was serviceable, he was not the quarterback of the future. Miami needed a quarterback and their fans knew Brees was still around.
The Dolphins went with cornerback Jamar Fletcher from Wisconsin instead. Brees was taken six spots later by San Diego. Fletcher, who was only a backup to Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain, lasted three seasons with Miami before being traded to San Diego for David Boston who played a grand total of five games in two seasons.
At the quarterback position, the Dolphins trotted out Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, and Gus Frerotte. In those five seasons the Dolphins made one playoff appearance.
Meanwhile, after playing in only one game his rookie season, Brees took over the starting quarterback role for the Chargers, was selected to one Pro Bowl (he was first alternate to a second but couldn’t play because of injury), was named the 2004 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and also went to the playoffs once.
A shoulder injury and a ton of money invested in backup Philip Rivers signaled the end of Brees’ time as a Charger. Miami would get another crack at him.
Obviously still unsettled at quarterback, Brees again was available, and he was very interested in joining the Dolphins.
Nick Saban balked at Brees’ shoulder injury though, and decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead, even though he had a knee injury himself.
The only other team to have interest in Brees—the Saints—signed him after Miami went in another direction.
Culpepper never really recovered and the Dolphins had a losing season. After the season, Nick Saban bolted from Miami back to college football and Culpepper was released.
Since the decision to go with Culpepper over Brees, the Dolphins have used seven different quarterbacks: Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, and Chad Henne.
Brees has made the Dolphins look ridiculous.
He’s accomplished an incredible amount as a Saint: three more Pro Bowls, three All-Pro selections, one NFL offensive Player of the Year award, countless franchise records, and oh yea, a Super Bowl championship and Super Bowl MVP.
And Brees’ shoulder? Well, he has played in every single game possible in his career as a Saint, minus one game this past season when Head Coach Sean Payton sat him because the Saints had home field advantage locked up.
Since Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins have been looking for a franchise quarterback to replace him.
That was a decade ago.
Chad Henne had a solid first year as a starter, but it’s been a painful ride for Dolphin fans.
Dolphin fans watched Brees holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy Sunday night and could only wonder what if, as their team has only been to the playoffs twice in the past decade losing in the first round both times.
They wanted Brees all along.
They could’ve had him twice.
They won’t get another crack at him, and who knows when they’ll get another shot at either their franchise quarterback or the Super Bowl.