Brees completes true underdog story

It takes a special person to turn rejection into greatness.

Some forget that Doug Flutie replaced Drew Brees during the 2003 regular season because the former second round pick couldn’t get the job done. That prompted the Chargers to acquire Philip Rivers in the 2004 draft and had he not held out that year, San Diego may have never taken another look at Brees.

Brees played well in 2004 and 2005, which is why he was able to stick around in San Diego as long as he did. But the Bolts faced a major decision at the end of the 2005 season about what to do with Brees and Rivers. Do they commit to Brees and trade Rivers? Do they let Brees walk in free agency and go with an unproven Rivers?

That decision was essentially made for them when Brees suffered a shoulder injury in the last game of the ’05 season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and when he went back to the Chargers looking for a new deal, they offered him a five-year, $50 million contract that paid only $2 million in base salary the first year and the rest was heavily saturated in performance incentives.

The Chargers essentially offered him a deal they knew he would reject, which he did before hitting the open market. The team he wanted to play for, the Dolphins, was interested but they used his shoulder injury as an excuse to pass on him and sign Daunte Culpepper instead. The only team that showed any true trust in him was the Saints, whom he eventually signed with in March of 2006.

Fast-forward four years to Sunday night in Miami. After shaking off a jittery first quarter, Brees went on to complete 32-of-39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ 31-17 win over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. He earned the MVP trophy by outplaying Peyton Manning, which is no easy feat. Brees was absolutely brilliant, as the Saints relied on him and the passing game the entire night. They trusted him to win them their first ever Super Bowl, just as they trusted him in ’06 when they were the only team that was truly interested.

But despite the fact that he’s now a Super Bowl and MVP winner, what makes Brees special is not his on-field heroics. He’s special because at no time did he ever complain about his situation or seek revenge on the Chargers and Dolphins for taking a pass. Instead, he took everything in stride, embraced the city of New Orleans and turned a bunch of negatives into one huge positive. Not everyone can do that and that is what makes Brees’ story so impressive.

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Brees will challenge for the MVP all season

Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense is already in midseason form, which is a scary thought for teams in the NFC South.

Brees completed 26 of 34 passes for 358 yards and threw six touchdowns in New Orleans’ 45-27 win over the Lions on Sunday. The Saints racked up 515 total yards of offense and was 9 of 13 on third down conversations.

Granted, it’s important to keep in mind that the Saints were playing against a Lions defense that is severely lacking talent and clearly hasn’t had the chance to grasp the new scheme implemented by first-year head coach Jim Schwartz.

But for a moment, set aside whom the Saints were playing; Brees looked like a surgeon slicing through Detroit’s pass defense and threw passes to eight different receivers. Jeremy Shockey (2 TDs), Devery Henderson (5 rec., 103 yards, 1 TD), Marques Colston (3 rec., 30 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Meachem (2 rec., 38 yards, 1 TD) all had productive days.

Although they gave up 27 points, the Saints’ defensive performance was encouraging. They limited the Lions’ offense to 231 total yards and forced three turnovers. Darren Sharper, who was acquired in free agency this offseason, had two interceptions.

The dark cloud for the Saints was their special teams. Reggie Bush muffled two punts, the punt coverage unit surrendered a big return and kicker John Carney had a 34-yard field goal attempt blocked. Even with how potent the offense is New Orleans can’t have these kinds of miscues on special teams.

Matthew Stafford had a rough debut, completing just 16 of 37 pass attempts for 205 yards and three interceptions. That said, he developed good chemistry with receiver Calvin Johnson (the pair hooked up on a nice 64-yard completion on a crossing route) and he did score a touchdown on a one-yard run in the third quarter. All in all, Stafford looked like a rookie making his first career start on the road.

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