The Loyal Leader: Drew Brees

Drew Brees started his career as the first pick in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, selected by the San Diego Chargers. Three seasons later, the Chargers landed Philip Rivers in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Two seasons and a rare shoulder tear later, Brees found himself looking for a starting job with not a lot of options on the table for a short quarterback coming off a major throwing shoulder injury.

He would eventually land with the New Orleans Saints, a team and city devastated by Hurricane Katrina less than a year earlier.

See how Brees’ traits as a Musketeer Athlete has kept him loyal and working hard for the team and city that gave him his second chance.

The Perfect Match

Perhaps no player and city in the history of the NFL has embraced each other quite like Drew Brees and the city of New Orleans.

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Brees was the leader the Saints needed to turn the franchise around, especially in a city in that had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“There is a combination of character and toughness, hard work and athleticism. All of those things that would draw somebody to a player like Drew Brees, and I think it’s unique,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton, who arrived in New Orleans during the same offseason as Brees.

Payton was right, as teammates and the citizens of New Orleans have embraced Brees for the last 12 NFL seasons.

Drew Brees is a Musketeer Athlete, meaning he can be best described as team-oriented, helpful, and loyal.

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Musketeer’s see Teammates as Family

That team-oriented mentality shines through when you hear Brees’ current and former teammates talk about what he’s meant to the teams he’s been a part of.

“If he told me to jump off a cliff in order to win a game, I’d do it,” left guard Carl Nicks once said. “He’s like the Pied Piper. He leads and we follow.”

The desire to be a team-oriented player comes from the Musketeer’s quality of always being willing to help others in order to form a close bond, they love the feeling of being part of a team.

There is probably no better example of Brees displaying this trait than when he broke Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season in 2011:

You can almost feel the connection between Brees and every other person in that locker room. It was an amazing individual achievement, but as Brees explains– he couldn’t have done it without his teammates,coaches, and even equipment managers, and it’s just as much their achievement to enjoy as it is his.

This is just one of countless examples of Brees focusing on the relationships he’s built through his time with the Saints.

Musketeer athletes don’t need to be the star, they are happy just being part of the team– helping their teammates improve while pushing themselves to new heights.

Drew Brees is the star of the Saints though, which makes his down-to-earth and modest style feel so much more genuine. Check out this video of Zach Streif, Brees’ long time front-side protector, and how he says Brees impacted him throughout his career:

The feeling is obviously mutual, as you see Brees holding back tears while Streif talked about what Brees meant to him, as a teammate and friend. “You’re the greatest leader I’ve ever been around, and I admire you so much as a player, but even more so as a person,” Streif says.

It’s moments like these that show Brees loyalty to his team, and how his teammates respond to him.

“Drew is one of those guys that doesn’t stop working,” former Saints running back Reggie Bush said. “He’s a perfectionist and he’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve been around. He makes you push yourself beyond what you think you can do.”

Philanthropy: A Musketeer helping the Community

Musketeer’s are known as “the helpful athlete” and for Drew Brees, that doesn’t just pertain to his work on the football field– he’s one of the more philanthropically minded athletes of this generation.

Through his Drew Brees Dream foundation, which focuses on helping improve the quality of life for cancer patients, as well as providing care, education and opportunities for families in need; Brees has contributed more than $25 million to charitable causes world-wide.

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He’s especially made it a point to give back to the community that has given him so much over the years. He won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award in 2006, primarily due to his efforts helping the city of New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina.

“We leaned on each other in so many cases,” Brees said about New Orleanians. “As people are trying to rebuild their homes, rebuild their lives, they’re still coming to games to cheer on the Saints because it just gives them so much energy and enthusiasm … just this feeling that we’re all in this together.”

It’s a connection that has kept Brees coming back to the Saints everytime his contract has been up. While there’s always been speculation he would depart, fans felt at ease that the organization and their loyal leader would come to an agreement to keep the marriage together.

Re-upping with the Saints in the 2018 offseason after their heartbreaking loss to Minnesota in the NFC Divisional Round playoffs just felt like a re-energization of the Brees-Saints partnership, with both parties excited for the possibilities:

“The season ends, and this one will sting, but I think you look back at the things we accomplished and some of the memories that were made and the relationships that were built and the way this team came together. It really leaves me excited for the future of Saints football,” Brees said. 

The renewed contract shows Brees and the team’s commitment to each other, not surprising after the decade-plus run they’ve had together in New Orleans, allowing Brees to stay loyal to the team and city that has embraced him just as much as he has them.

“I want to be somebody who is not only a leader on my football team, but a leader in the community, somebody who follows through with what he says he’s going to do, be accountable, show integrity and give back,” said Brees.