Two of the best quarterbacks in the league go head-to-head Sunday night in what is sure to be an epic scoring fest between the Denver Broncos and the New Orleans Saints.
As a former San Diego Charger, Drew Brees is all too familiar with Denver, it’s altitude and it’s fans. The memories related to the Broncos aren’t all positive, however.
On Brees’ last play as a Charger in 2005, he tore his labrum when he was hit by defensive tackle Gerard Warren on the ground after John Lynch caused a fumble.
Brees missed that year’s Pro Bowl after having surgery, and the Chargers turned their head on the quarterback by not offering him a top-5 salary, so Brees interviewed with other teams.
As Brees was recovering from his injury, New Orleans was recovering it’s city after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. It was a seemingly match made in heaven. A quarterback and it’s city would rehab together and try to get back to the greatness that defined them.
In 2006, Brees guided the Saints to a 10-6 record and the NFC South division title. This was after the team went 3-13 the year before. Three years later, the Saints of course won the Super Bowl, beating Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts.
The success that Brees has had in New Orleans has to make Manning smile on some level (except on the day that the Colts lost the Super Bowl). Manning grew up there, and his father, Archie, played for the Saints. It was his hometown team, a team that tugged at his heartstrings.
Recovery efforts at the forefront, Manning is trying to mimic Bress’ success post surgery and post team change. Brees thinks that Manning’s situation is on another level.
“You’re talking about a neck versus a shoulder,” Brees said. “I’ll say this: I know what I had to do to overcome my injury. I can only imagine what Peyton had to overcome with his injury. I know it was multiple neck surgeries, I know it was a much longer period of time than what my rehab was, and you’re talking about your neck. It’s been pretty unbelievable what he’s been able to do, coming off of that. I can only imagine being out of football for that time, and then getting back in it, just all the things that come along with that. It just shows his dedication and his love for the game, his passion to play and compete.”
Shoulders and necks aside, we’re about to watch two of the greatest arms in NFL history air it out. Whether you’re a Broncos’ fan or a Saints’ fan, you have to appreciate the triumph and heart of these two game changers, and these two future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks. They show that there is grace amidst struggle, which is ultimately why we watch sports.