Thank you Drew Brees.
I have never been a person to gush over professional athletes, but in this case, I will make an exception.
The New Orleans Saints lost their playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks ago and will more than likely mark an end to one of the greatest times of my life being a Saints fan. Drew will probably retire soon and with it will start a new chapter of being a Saints fan.
My wife Deborah and I have been New Orleans fans for a long time. We have lived through times when a first down was reason to celebrate and a victory was a cherished thing. We have watched quarterbacks come and go, but none have had an impact on us, our cherished city and team more than Drew has.
In fact, we have two dogs, Drew and Breesy.
Breesy joined our family the year Drew joined the Saints and helped lead the team to their first NFC championship game against Chicago. We lost, but we also knew our beloved team may have turned the corner and could become one we could expect big things. It took another few years before we had another chance to get to the Super Bowl and Drew made it work this time by beating the Minnesota Vikings in the conference championship and then the Colts in the Super Bowl.
We cried as any other die-hard Saints fan would after such a big win, especially after all the years of losing. Drew was our centerpiece and his devotion to the game, the team and the city made us feel he was a part of our lives. Of course, naming two dogs after him made him feel almost like family.
We had a chance to meet him years ago after our Super Bowl win. We were at a book signing and my wife got to shake his hand and say a few words.
“Thank you for all the joy you have brought us,” Deborah said.
I don’t think the smile left her face for hours after getting to meet him and I also have to believe there are thousands of people that would tell him the same thing if they had the same chance.
It hasn’t been made official, but there are times as an athlete when you know your time has passed. Certainly not even remotely close to Drew’s level, but I knew when my athletic career was over and it was bittersweet. I remember walking off the field the last time and knowing it was the last time, but I also knew there would be more challenges ahead and new goals to achieve.
Drew certainly has that in front of him and his family which has grown over the years while in New Orleans will give him the opportunity to achieve and set many new goals.
As I write this, I remember how he has portrayed himself to his team and his adoptive city. He has been a model of consistency and of class. I think many NFL or professional teams would clamor to have someone like him in a leadership role. As a fan, I can only thank him for the memories he has given myself, Deborah and our children who are also Saints fans.
We would love to have him back, but something tells me we will be waiting a long time for the next quarterback of his caliber to come along. He certainly will be going into the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible, but it’s something he has earned.
What he has also earned is my gratitude for doing things right, doing things as best he could and pushing our beloved team to heights we would have never realized.
Thank you Drew Brees.
If you see me say, “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News.