BRAGGING RIGHTS: Saints-Bucs QB “Living Legends” Seek Early Advantage This Sunday

Photo Credits: New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on

The NFC South Division title. The #1 seed in the conference during the 2020 NFL Playoffs. Perhaps even earning a trip to play in Super Bowl LV (55). Those are just a few of the things that could end up being at stake in just 6 more days from now, when the New Orleans Saints face-off against their division rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in the first game of the NFL 2020 Season for both teams.

There probably hasn’t been a much more hyped Season Opener in the Saints’ entire 53-year franchise history than this one will be, for a variety of those reasons just mentioned. But perhaps no story-line will be more talked about by both fans and analysts alike, than the well-publicized battle for bragging rights that will occur between two of the NFL’s greatest QB’s of all-time: “living legends” Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

The two future NFL Hall of Famers and 40-something year old signal-callers are currently ranked as the #1 and #2  top players on the NFL’s all-time lists, for both passing yards and touchdown passes.


1. Drew Brees: 77,416 yards, 547 touchdowns

2. Tom Brady: 74,571 yards, 541 touchdowns

But Brady has six Super Bowl rings compared to Brees’ one and only ring, that he won following the Saints’ unforgettable Super Bowl run back during the 2009 Season.

However, another fact that’s just as notable is that New Orleans has won the last 3 consecutive NFC South Division Championships (2017, 2018, and then once again last year); but now that Brady will be the brand new starter for the Bucs, the expectations are that he and Tampa Bay will be the top challengers (and the biggest obstacle) for the Saints if they hope to win a 4th straight division title.

The only question for fans of both teams as the teams prepare to clash at the Superdome this coming Sunday, is just which one of these two “40-something” year old quarterbacks can win another Super Bowl title before they eventually retire.

Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone, The Palm Beach Post

For Brady, there’s really nothing left for him to prove other than showing everyone that he can still play the sport at the highest level, a level that’s given him the opportunity to become recognized as the NFL’s greatest quarterback ever.

And while Brees certainly is in the conversation among the League’s best-ever QB’s himself, his motivation for still playing is trying to win just one more World Championship before he leaves the sport permanently.

This coming Sunday will not only be the first time that starting QB’s in their 40’s age-wise have ever faced each other in a NFL game, but it also will be the 6th time that the two have faced each other in the NFL in their respective two decades-plus careers, with Brees holding a (3-2) win-loss record over Brady (when he still was with the Patriots), in those match-ups.

Two of Brees’ wins came with the San Diego Chargers during his first 5 seasons in the League, and the other was the Saints (a 38-17 blowout on Monday Night Football) during their 2009 Super Bowl season. Brady however has won their last two games against each other, one in 2013 and the other in 2017.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

The two also will face each other once again on November 8th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and clearly the end results of those two games will have a direct impact upon which of the two teams and their respective “living legends” and future NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, will ultimately earn the best shot at winning the NFC South Division title and get to have “bragging rights” once the 2020 Season comes to an end.

As this coming Sunday’s divisional showdown looms large for both teams and QB’s, Brady told 24 / 7 Sports NFL writer Garrett Stepien that he’s looking forward to facing his old friend Brees and the Saints.

“I love the sport of football and competing in it. Whoever it was on the other side of the field, I’d be excited to play. And obviously, when you go against players like Drew and a great team like that, you know there’s not a lot of margin of error.”

“So there’s not going to be a margin of error, which is why they’re tough to beat, they’re always in the playoffs, always competing for Super Bowls. I’ve got a lot of respect for them, their program, how they run it. It’s going to be a tough game, but we’ll be excited when we take the field.”

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers on

Throughout the off-season or the team’s recently-completed Training Camp last week, Brees for his part hasn’t really said much yet up to this point in regards to this Sunday’s upcoming contest specifically; and instead has been laser-focused on preparing and getting for the upcoming season, but likely will comment on it starting later on today after practice.

However just prior to Tampa Bay signing Brady during 2020 NFL Free Agency back in mid-March, Brees told  Boston radio station WEEI that neither he or Brady aren’t still playing the sport of Pro Football into their early 40’s just for their health, but rather for one simple reason: winning this year’s Super Bowl.

Brees — who has known Brady dating back to their college days playing together in the Big Ten Conference (Brees at Purdue University and Brady at the University of Michigan) — said his Bucs QB counterpart isn’t still hanging around the League now at age 43 just to make more money, but to proverbially “go out on top” with one last championship.

“I don’t think any of this is about money for Tom. I think it’s about winning another championship. I also think that it’s probably about feeling like he’s in a situation where he’s got all the pieces in place to do that. I can’t speak for him, but I know that in this stage of the game and knowing his mentality to a degree, it’s about winning a championship”.

To that point, both QB’s are surrounded with a multitude of offensive weapons coming into this Sunday’s match-up, with Tampa having recently added notable free agent stars such as TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Leonard Fournette; and the Saints having signed top-rated veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders to put opposite of All-Pro WR Michael Thomas, in a New Orleans offense that also features RB Alvin Kamara and TE Jared Cook,

Photo Credit: Michael Thomas on Twitter (Original Credit via San Gardener)

There should be no shortage of excitement for fans, despite the two teams playing in what will basically be an empty Superdome. The iconic indoor stadium for at least this first home game for the Black and Gold, will be a virtual “ghost town” due to the current federal and locally-mandated COVID-19 / coronavirus restrictions being followed and enforced by the NFL.

But for the loyal and devoted followers of these two fan-bases, Sunday’s game will be much more than the 2020 NFL Season Opener.

It will be about gaining an advantage right at the start. It will be about the NFC South Division title. Perhaps the #1 seed in the conference during the Playoffs. And for one of these teams and its respective future Hall of Famers, possibly even the Super Bowl itself.

It will be an early season battle for bragging rights — between two of the NFL’s QB “living legends”….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously 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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