He IS the Best
Former players and coaches fill the networks with hundreds of thousands of words every Sunday. They analyze every play and every player. The over-hyped game of the week featured the Denver Broncos at the New England Patriots. Expectations had nothing to do with the teams, or their records, it was because Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were the quarterbacks. They are both excellent at their position, but they only play that one position.
There is only one team sport left in professional athletics, and that is football. Eleven men are on the field for each team on every play, and it takes all eleven doing their job at the same time to make a play successful. I am not in any way demeaning the importance of the quarterback position. However, if you watched that particular game on Sunday you witnessed two good quarterbacks doing their best to get a win for their team. There was no magic Manning could perform to achieve a win for his simply “average” team. In the end it was the running game of the Patriots that was the deciding factor in the outcome. Manning looked somewhat ordinary. It is a team game.
When these “expert” commentators talk about the best quarterbacks in football, they are stating opinions, and that is all they are, opinions. Devoted fans, such as myself, often see things much differently. I see more than the physical ability of a player, I see what they do for their team, and realize that without that particular player, the team would not function as eleven men working as one. The “experts” most often rate the best quarterbacks in football as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Jay Cutler.
The Pittsburgh Steeler’s Ben Roethlisberger is their most valuable player, bar none. Without him, they wouldn’t have an offense. He is seldom mentioned.
As I watch the game, the best quarterback in the game is Drew Brees. After an 0 and 4 start, he led his team to a 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night’s game. The reason he is the best at his position is what he has done long term for the New Orleans Saints.
In 2005 he and Rivers were battling each other for the starting position in San Diego. Brees, who is only six feet tall, was recovering from a shoulder injury. The Chargers decided to keep Rivers, and release Brees. Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, invited Brees to New Orleans. They toured the city and Payton told him that he wanted him to be their quarterback. New Orleans was a team that had been laughable at times. Their fans occasionally wore paper bags over their heads. And before Brees was driven through the city, it had suffered Katrina, and the visible damage was devastating. Most repairs were not even in the planning stages. Drew and his wife felt a kinship with the city and its people. He signed a contract.
Since that time, he has led the Saints to a position of number one in their division. They make the playoffs, and have won a Superbowl. Personally, he has broken what are probably the two most renowned records in football. In 2011, he surpassed Dan Marino’s record for the most touchdown passes in one season. Last night he broke a 52 year old record that I and many others thought might stand for all time. Johnny Unitas had thrown a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, the last coming in 1960. In the first quarter of Sunday night’s game, Brees threw his 48th consecutive touchdown pass.
Drew Brees will be in the Hall of Fame. He will be a hero to the people of New Orleans for eternity. He is the heart and soul of not only his team, but also for every resident of one of the great cities of our country. Sean Payton’s decision to court Brees to lead his team has helped revitalize a city that was on the brink of destruction physically and emotionally.
It is not uncommon that a sporting event or even a team becomes a catalyst for recovery of a town, city, or even a nation. When Sean Payton and Drew Brees stood on the stage together hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy, an entire city felt a surge of pride, and with that a resurgence of hope for themselves and their city.
If I were starting a new football team, Brees would be my first choice to lead that team. His physical talent is excellent, but it his leadership ability and mental toughness that makes him the best.