Valuing Pigskin

One of the reasons why I like football so much is watching people overcome adversity. You can read a book and learn how it was done through history. You can learn of people doing it daily in the news but seeing it unfold in real time in sports, namely football is highly motivating to me.Take for instance the story behind Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. You have to admire a guy who almost loses his job due to a franchise rebuild. Then almost loses it to an unproven draft pick as he leads his team into the playoffs. Of course that wasn’t enough in San Diego; Brees still had to answer questions about the talented guy on the bench last season before tearing his shoulder up.

The potential career ending injury made the Chargers job easier. They cut Brees thinking his productive career was practically over to go with their prized draft pick of the previous year. The Dolphins turned their sights to Brees and had a chance to sign him but chose Daunte Culpeper and his reconstructed knee instead. After several dismal starts for the Dolphins, Daunte went back to rehab.

Forget about the records. Forget about where the Dolphins are. Forget about all that because not only has Drew Brees proven to be one the games most prolific passers in recent years as he leads the Saints to one of the best records in football, he mirrors the spirit and the fight of the great city he represents. That makes this a double bonus feel good story to follow in sports.

It was miraculous enough to have the Saints playing football last year after Katrina. It was nice to have that team win their season opener a year ago but in reality the ’05 Saints couldn’t possibly win. The players and the city just weren’t ready for it. Enter new coaching and Drew Brees in 2006. As the city becomes reenergized, reopened the Super Dome, tourists began to flow back to the Big Easy, so too have the Saints rekindled their fire (or lit one depending on how you look at it).

Take Brees away however and I don’t think it happens. Brees’ never say die attitude and approach to teamwork has single handily lifted this team and city out of the flood waters that existed a year ago. It’s easy to say Ladanian Tomlinson is the league’s most valuable player, especially since he now holds the record for most TDs in a season. But honestly, replace LT with Larry Johnson, Tiki Barber, or Carnell Williams for that matter and I believe the Chargers are still the favorite in the AFC. (Gosh give Cadillac an OL in Tampa and maybe we’re talking about him as MVP?!)

Drew Brees of the New Orleans SaintsTake away Brees from New Orleans…at this time, for this team, for this city…right now in time and I don’t think the Saints are earning the title “America’s Team.” If you watched Drew Brees and his teammates dismantle the Cowboys last night you know why I’ve written this post this morning. Bill Parcells’ team looked like a third tier Division I-A team up against a NFL division leader. Brees accounted for 384 of the Saints’ 536 total yards. He threw 5 TDs (one spectacular screen to Reggie Bush) and completed over 68% of his passes.

If Archie Manning was dead you could say the ghost of Archie was looking down on Brees and the Saints last night. But Archie is not dead. He’s earning $50k an hour on the lecture circuit. So this performance belongs to Brees and his teammates. Not any voodoo curse. Not any long time Saints hero coming back from the dead. This year’s performance belongs to good old fashion American hard work and drive. And that’s why Brees should be this year’s MVP.

I hope I’m writing another similar post about Jason Campbell in a couple of years. Jason looks pretty good in his first couple of starts but obviously has some learning to do. The question is will NFL coaches stick with him as Tommy Tuberville at Auburn did? In 2004, I was at the LSU game in Auburn when Jason shed that “can’t win the big game” monkey from his back. Eighty plus thousand Auburn fans in the stadium not only cheered as Jason through the winning touchdown (after a 4th and long completion just moments before) but cried for him as well.

And this is why I enjoy football so much. This is why I now DVR the Redskins games and pine for any news I can get on Brees and Campbell. I cheer for them and their success because they overcome adversity by leveraging American values that many American’s don’t, can’t, and aren’t being taught today.


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