Drew Brees was a guest on Monday's Black and Blue Report. Monday is the 10-year anniversary of when Brees agreed to join the Saints. The Saints quarterback spoke to Daniel Sallerson about the previous 10 years.
I want to talk about the free agent process for you 10 years ago. Take us through that. What was that process like for you and your family?
"It was different because it was the first time we'd gone through anything like that. It was unique too because I was coming off my shoulder injury. I was in Birmingham, Ala., about two months into rehabilitation for my dislocated right shoulder. So much of my focus during those two months had been just on the day to day with trying to get range of motion back in my shoulder and strength. Every day hoping that I would see progress and get the shoulder to where I wanted it to be. Yet still it was an eight-month process so I was so early in the rehab it's not like I could do anything that was really going to impress any teams that were coming after me in free agency. I remember putting together a video of me just doing some exercises that showed I was ahead of schedule and yet it was probably really unimpressive when I look back on it (laughter). I was just searching for anything to try and impress the Saints or anybody else who was coming after me in free agency. Obviously at the end of the day it was down to New Orleans and Miami during that process."
Was that a big concern with you knowing that you couldn't really throw or show how strong your arm eventually would be?
"Yeah, bottom line I knew the teams, and there were just two teams that came after me, had to have extreme faith in my ability to come back from that injury because there was nothing that I could have shown them at that moment that would've proven that I was going to come back the same or better or anything. I could barely bring my elbow up above my shoulder. It took some great vision, confidence and faith and that's what Sean Payton had when I remember the first time he called me. I was actually on my way back from rehab, back to my in-laws house because they just happened to live in Birmingham and they were shuttling me back and forth to rehab every day. I remember Coach Payton called me and said, "Hey, we like you, we want to bring you in on a visit and we feel like you could be our quarterback." Man that was I guess a little bit of validation for everything I had to kind of overcome to that point just knowing that okay, there is somebody out there that wants me that feels like I could come back."
Now, if I remember correctly, I heard a Sean Payton story about when he was recruiting you during free agency when he was driving you around, he got lost in the city of New Orleans when you were in the car with him and he felt at that time that he actually lost you as a free agent thinking you wouldn't want to come here. Do you remember that time when Payton got lost?
"I remember it vividly because I think the whole objective for Saints coaching staff was that when my wife and I came to town they wanted to show us that despite the devastation in New Orleans, there were still great places to live and raise a family and for kids to go to school and all that stuff. I remember we drove to the north shore and looked around and then we came over to the south shore and we were Uptown and then kind of made our way to the highway. Then really the intent was to go back to the facility but Coach Payton took a wrong turn and we ended up in Lakeview right off of where the 17th street canal levee had broken and all that water had come rushing in and had literally wiped houses off of the foundation. We saw some serious devastation as we were driving around and Brittany and I are looking at each other, Coach Payton is looking at us just going, "well, I might as well just drive him straight to Miami at this point. They're not coming here after seeing all this." It was actually quite the contrary. That's when my wife and I really realized that this journey to New Orleans was so much more than just about football or the comeback of an organization or football team, it was really about the resurgence and resurrection of a city and a community and we had a chance to be part of that. That's when we really felt the calling like you know what, this is not going to be easy but nothing that's worthwhile in life is. This is a great opportunity to be part of something very special here."
You mention your wife and you touring around the city of New Orleans, also all your kids have been born here. I know it'll be tough to put this in words, but what has the city of New Orleans meant to you and your family?
"It's pretty incredible. We were told very early on when we came to New Orleans that if you love New Orleans it will love you back and there is no question that has been true. I think we felt embraced from the moment we stepped foot in New Orleans, having not even signed there yet. I remember during our recruiting too, we ate at Emeril's, went back to the Chef's Table at Emeril's there on Tchoupitoulas and we're with Mickey and his wife and Sean and his wife and a couple of coaches and their wives. I remember on my way in and on my way out, literally every step I took there was somebody stopping me, a member of the New Orleans community, saying not "hey, come be part of the Saints, love the way you play football" or anything like that, it was "thanks for considering being part of our city, we love this city so much and you'll love it too, you'll love playing here and you'll love being part of this community." That was the part that separated New Orleans from any other place I think we had ever been or visited was that feeling that these people who live here really love this place and there's something special and unique about it that's different than any other".
Another person that's a big part of the New Orleans community is Peyton Manning who announced his retirement last Monday. What are your thoughts on one, Peyton Manning just as a football player and just your thoughts on his wonderful career in the NFL?
"18 years and he was a guy that really set the bar for the rest of us. I just finished my fifteenth year so Peyton was three years ahead of me. When he was drafted to Indianapolis, I was just right down the road at Purdue. I remember them coming playing a preseason game at our stadium. I remember going and seeing my first NFL game I ever saw in person was at the RCA dome to watch Peyton Manning play on Monday Night Football against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I've always been a Peyton fan and always felt like he was the guy that was exemplifying how to play the quarterback position in the NFL and how to conduct yourself as a pro and all those things. Going back to my college days, I've always felt that way about Peyton and he consistently provided that standard I think for all of us. He had an amazing career, I mean an unbelievable career in two different locations where I know we all thought he would never leave Indianapolis, right? Things happen and he goes onto Denver and has four pretty incredible years there. This final season kind of filled with a different type of adversity that he's had to face before with an injury that's caused him to miss games in a season where it didn't feel like that was part of the plan. Then all of a sudden he's back for that playoff run and the team comes together, I think kind of feels the energy that he brought back. Man it was a pretty magical run and it was fun to watch."
How's the offseason been treating you? Have you been able to have some time to relax and spend some time with your family?
"Yeah, I have. First and foremost, it's about recharging your battery and getting that time with your family. Just enjoying those things that obviously during the season we're so wrapped up in the week to week preparation and everything and this is the time to be able to enjoy time with family. Taking kids to school, picking them up, coaching a little flag football, that kind of stuff. Also, get the body healthy. I had the plantar fascia injury at the end of the season. That had to heal up, as well as a few other things and that's kind of the way it is for every guy. Every guy's got something they're battling and now you have time to rest it and you make sure that you get that all healed up before you start training again. Now we all have our sights set on April 18 when we all report back and get the 2016 season started."
On March 14, 2006, quarterback