Saints quarterback Drew Brees has had unparallelled success in the Crescent City ever since he became the franchise-saving quarterback in 2006. While in New Orleans, the future Hall of Famer has led the NFL in passing yards more often than not, and every single year has also finished at the top of the league in virtually every statistical category they keep track of for quarterbacks.
To put his passing dominance into perspective, there have been only 8 NFL seasons in which a QB has thrown for 5,000 or more yards, and Brees did it in 4 of those 8 seasons. For years, Dan Marino was the only passer to accomplish the feat. In the last decade, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford have also passed the Holy Grail for quarterbacks...but just one time each. In fact, when Brees threw for an NFL leading 4,952 yards last year, many people considered it a bad season by his lofty standards.
And it's not just the pure passing numbers that make Brees special in the Big Easy. Of course, the multiple playoff appearances and Super Bowl Championship give him credibility around the league as well. But it's really the heroic stuff he does for the people here is what truly sets him apart from other superstars, and makes him a saint in every sense of the word. Drew Brees, in a weird way, actually saved the city of New Orleans in many people's minds.
Weeks ago, New Orleans "celebrated" the 10th Anniversary of the worst disaster in the history of this country, Hurricane Katrina. Enter Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees a year later. Non-sports fans will scoff at the notion that individuals who participate in a children's game played on Sundays can actually change the psyche and vibe of an entire city...those people are dead wtong.
Brees not only helped bring the Saints back from being the worst team in the NFL (Katrina year) to the NFC Championship Game in just one season. He also helped put pride back on the faces of so many New Orleanians who had been beaten down mentally, emotionally and spiritually after the storm. For years, the Saints were the only professional game in town, and from the very beginning in 1967, fans latched on to them much how the city's favorite culinary dish, red beans latches onto rice.
He helped give the Crescent City hope again.
So when rumors started circulating this morning that Brees's poor performance in the Saints 26-19 loss to Tampa Bay yesterday, was due to a possible torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, emotions were incredibly mixed. First there was the 'AHA moment' because in your heart, you knew that Brees' arm could not have deteriorated THAT much. But then came the realization, that DREW BREES MIGHT HAVE A TORN ROTATOR CUFF! What? Sound the sirens! How could that be?
Saints fans have been incredibly spoiled by Brees extraordinary exploits on the field, but perhaps the luck of his almost perfect health while in the Crescent City, has been just as important. How ironic is it that when Drew Brees chose the Saints in free agency in '06, it was largely because the Miami Dolphins team doctors allegedly told then-head coach Nick Saban that his fragile shoulder wasn't worth the risk. And even more ironic is the fact that in 9 full seasons in New Orleans, the same Drew Brees that no one wanted to touch because of injury, has never missed a game because of injury? That is an unheard statement regarding NFL quarterbacks not named Brett Favre or Peyton Manning.
So when the news came down that Brees might (gasp) miss the entire season, it was met with complete shock and awe around the city. However, later in the afternoon, reports came out nationally that the Saints announced Brees' injury was merely a BRUISED ROTATOR CUFF, a diagnosis that doesn't sound nearly as serious. Personally, I've never heard of a bruised rotator cuff, but I've also never spent a single day in a medical school class either. Please excuse me if I'm a little skeptical though.
Here's the low down. The always secretive Saints organization never freely hands out their players medical information, and that's their perogative. We do know that Dr. James Andrews of the famed Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida is taking a second look at Brees' MRI. And until fans receive the official "Gospel According to James" then we'll have a much better idea whether this is a really serious situation or not. And at the moment, everything is in play. Personally, I'll be shocked to see Brees in uniform this Sunday against the Panthers. I want to be wrong.
Will Brees miss a game? Several games? Or God forbid, is there a chance the local hero might miss the entire season? And if that's the case, has Drew Brees played his last game in a New Orleans Saints uniform? Not trying to be an alarmist, but those questions must be asked. Stay tuned, because I promise you one thing, I'll be all over this situation the moment anything occurs. Luke McCown, start warming up....