If Upcoming 2020 Season is Drew Brees’ Final Year, It’s Been One Helluva Ride

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

“Greatness.” In the modern-day NFL, it’s become a term or phrase which essentially has lost all of its meaning over the years — thanks in part to the fact that it’s now commonly used to describe players who honestly don’t deserve that notoriety or haven’t truly earned such recognition.

However the term is definitely an appropriate one, when describing 20th year veteran, current “living legend”, and New Orleans Saints starting QB Drew Brees.

If the comments made earlier today by head coach Sean Payton are indeed true that next season will be the final year for the future Hall of Famer, then that phrase will become a permanent one that will forever be associated with the man who not only will be remembered as the single greatest player in Saints franchise history, but one of the “greatest quarterbacks of all-time”, period.

If the upcoming 2020 NFL Season is Brees’ final year, it’s certainly been one helluva ride.

Photo Credit: Wyatt Vaughn, JRNOLA

While appearing on ESPN’s daily  “Get Up” sportstalk TV program earlier this morning, Payton first reiterated to host Mike Greenberg that he has fully recovered from the recent positive COVID-19 / coronavirus diagnosis that forced him to self-quarantine inside of his home for the past two weeks.

But then just a few minutes later during that very same exclusive interview, Payton dropped the proverbial bombshell that up to this point has been rumored occasionally but never quite confirmed: that the upcoming 2020 NFL Season for Brees will actually be his last one in the NFL.

“The unique thing with our team and our quarterback Drew Brees is he announced he is coming back for his final season”, Payton said to Greenberg; comments that came as somewhat of a surprise to those who believe that the ultra-competitive 41-year old won’t fully consider retirement from the sport of Pro Football (at least not willingly), until he wins another Super Bowl.

Make no mistake about this much: Brees, who just last week signed a team-friendly 2-year, $50 million contract that many happy Saints fans view as a “hometown discount”, certainly could change his mind and return for the 2021 NFL Season; especially if he and the team are unable to accomplish that goal as they have in the past three consecutive post-seasons; all of which have ended in heart-breaking circumstances.

Nevertheless, Payton gave the impression to those watching from home that Brees has in fact made such a decision regarding his future beyond this year, and he also made it a point to tell Greenberg that he expects #2 back-up QB Taysom Hill to take over the reins as the team’s starter beginning in 2021 after Brees retires.

However, several prominent observers and analysts that cover the League on a daily basis have scoffed at such a notion, due to Taysom’s relative inexperience at the position which has seen him only throw a grand total of 13 passes at the professional level.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

The Saints head coach then also reaffirmed his own commitment to Hill, and told Greenberg that the former BYU (Brigham Young University) star views himself as a starting-caliber quarterback in the League and stated that “we (the Saints organization) do, too”.

While the likelihood that Hill can actually become a starting-caliber QB at the NFL level is still yet to be determined, he along with Payton and the entire Saints organization undoubtedly will now focus all of their concerted efforts into trying to help Brees “go out on top”.

Only a small handful of former NFL stars have accomplished such a feat (winning a World Championship right before retiring), and Brees clearly would like to put his name right alongside the only other legendary players from the past at the QB position specifically, who have managed to achieve that accomplishment: namely John Elway and Peyton Manning.

Both Elway and Manning’s names very frequently are associated with the phrase “greatness” that was prominently mentioned at the beginning of this article — and that status is particularly one that Brees has undoubtedly achieved himself — given all of the very notable records that he’s broken along the way in nearly 20 years as an NFL quarterback.

Assuming he does go through with retirement, the greatest player to ever wear the Black and Gold will finish as the NFL’s all-time leader in a handful of impressive categories; which will include career TD passes, completions, completion percentage, passing yardage , and consecutive games with at least 1 TD pass thrown.

For a player that many folks had figuratively “left for dead” following the 2005 NFL Season after he completely tore the labrum in his shoulder on his right throwing arm and was considered “damaged goods” back during that time (the 2006 NFL Off-Season); the sheer resiliency that Brees has demonstrated throughout the 14 years that he’s served since then as the proverbial face of the franchise, is truly nothing short of remarkable.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

That Ladies and Gentlemen, will be Andrew Christopher Brees‘ lasting and enduring legacy — to both the New Orleans Saints franchise and to the sport of Pro Football — and one that surely portends the well-deserved status of the term “greatness”.

If the upcoming 2020 NFL Season is indeed Drew Brees’ final year, it’s damn sure been one helluva ride….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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