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Looking back at Drew Brees’ impact on the Saints and the NFL

(AP Photo / Denis Poroy)

Exactly 15 years to the day of his signing with the New Orleans Saints, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees confirmed that he had played his last down as the franchise’s quarterback.

In a written post on Instagram accompanied by a video featuring his children, Brees explained that his NFL career had come to an end following a successful two decades in the league.

“After 20 years as a player in the NFL and 15 years as a Saint, it is time I retire from the game of football,” Brees wrote as he announced his retirement on Instagram.

With 80,358 passing yards and 571 touchdown passes through his career, the 42-year-old Brees proved that he belonged in the conversation as one of the sport’s greatest quarterbacks of all time.

At the time of his retirement in March of 2021, he sat in first place by more than 1,000 yards on the all-time passing yards list. He finished in second on the all-time passing touchdown list after a back-and-forth battle with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throughout the 2020 season.

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His resume practically guarantees him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he’ll undoubtedly find himself in the Saints’ Ring of Honor when the time comes, as well.

He represented the franchise as a 15-year team captain, leading them to the playoffs nine times, winning seven division titles and one Super Bowl.

Through it all, he remained a leader on the field, and a dedicated member of his team’s city away from the turf, as well.

He was there throughout New Orleans’ response to Hurricane Katrina, and he and his wife frequently donated millions of dollars to help the local community through a variety of different initiatives.

Brees also split Walter Payton Man of the Year honors with LaDainian Tomlinson after the 2006 season, an award that “recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.”

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“Each day, I poured my heart & soul into being your Quarterback,” Brees wrote as he addressed Saints fans that had supported him for 15 years. “Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organization, my team, and the great city of New Orleans.”

“We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us,” Brees continued. “You have molded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories. My goal for the last 15 years was striving to give to you everything you had given to me and more.”

His career didn’t come and go without controversy, specifically facing backlash in 2020 for telling Yahoo! Finance that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”

But, after 15 years of service to his local community, and a star-studded 20-year career in the NFL, it’s easy to see why Brees will go down as arguably the greatest player to don a Saints uniform, and one of the best to ever step foot on a football field.

“Drew is so much more valuable than all the records, awards and accolades that he amassed through a 15-year career with the New Orleans Saints and 20-year NFL playing career, one of the greatest in our league’s history,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement when Brees retired. “Over and above his outstanding performance, Drew came to represent the resolve, passion and drive that resonates not only with Saints fans and football fans, but our entire community.”

“He is a great ambassador for our city, state and region and I am confident he will continue to make positive impacts here locally,” Saints president Dennis Lauscha said. “It has been our incredible fortune to watch his daily efforts and commitment and on behalf our entire organization, we are eternally grateful for everything he has done and wish him well. He will always be a Saint.”

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