Drew Brees, who overcame a career-threatening shoulder harm to change into essentially the most statistically prolific quarterback in N.F.L. historical past, doubtless performed the ultimate sport of his 20-year profession Sunday, when his Saints lost, 30-20, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional spherical playoff sport in New Orleans.
For his half, Brees declined to debate his future, and mentioned the end result of Sunday’s sport can have no bearing on whether or not or not he’ll select to maintain enjoying.
“I’ll reply this query one time, and that’s I’m going to provide myself a possibility to consider the season, take into consideration quite a lot of issues, identical to I did final 12 months, and make the choice,” Brees mentioned.
Brees, 42, has a 12 months remaining on the two-year, $50 million contract extension he signed final March and has been approaching his standing on a season-by-season foundation. However in April he agreed to hitch NBC Sports activities as a soccer analyst, elevating hypothesis that the 2020 season could be his final.
“You discover out a lot about your self, and also you struggle via a lot if you play this sport,” Brees mentioned. “I’d say this season, I in all probability needed to struggle via greater than I’ve ever needed to in some other season in my profession, from accidents to all of the Covid stuff to simply loopy circumstances, and it was price each second of it, completely.”
Brees missed a month with 11 damaged ribs and a punctured lung however returned for the Saints’ remaining three video games of the common season, profitable two to assist them seize the No. 2 seed within the N.F.C. playoffs. As a substitute of rounding out his profession with a second championship to additional elevate his legacy, Brees delivered a jarring conclusion, throwing three interceptions Sunday — together with on each of the Saints’ fourth-quarter possessions.
Over his 20 N.F.L. seasons, Brees set quite a few passing information, together with most profession passing yards and completions, and received his solely Tremendous Bowl look, with New Orleans after the 2009 season. He ranks second in completion share, passing yards per sport and landing passes, in that class trailing solely Tom Brady, who threw two on Sunday to assist remove the Saints.
A second-round choose in 2001 by the Chargers out of Purdue, Brees made a Professional Bowl in San Diego however was discarded in favor of Philip Rivers. Within the remaining sport of the 2005 season, Brees, an impending free agent, dislocated his proper shoulder and tore his rotator cuff and labrum, an harm so extreme that he puzzled whether or not he would ever play once more.
Solely two groups pursued him that low season — Miami and New Orleans, which had a 3-13 file in 2005 after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Undeterred by each the state of the town and the unsure state of the group, Brees selected to revive his profession in New Orleans, the place he joined forces with new coach Sean Payton.
Collectively, they introduced respectability to the franchise and hope to a devastated area. In his first season, Brees led the Saints, who had made the playoffs 5 instances in 39 seasons earlier than he got here, to the N.F.C. championship sport. In his fourth season, he led the Saints to a Tremendous Bowl, beating three Corridor of Fame quarterbacks — Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning — within the playoffs to take action.