After 20 years in the NFL, and 15 years to the day with the Saints, legendary quarterback Drew Brees is retiring. The 42-year-old made the announcement Sunday on Instagram — well, actually his kids did.
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“After 15 years with the Saints and 20 years in the NFL, our dad is finally gonna retire,” said his children Baylen, Bowen, Callen and Rylen in a video. “So he can spend more time with us! Yeah!!”
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Brees added in the caption, “After 20 years as a player in the NFL and 15 years as a Saint, it is time to retire from the game of football. Each day, I poured my heart & soul into being your Quarterback. Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organization, my team, and the great city of New Orleans. We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us. You have molded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories. My goal for the last 15 years was striving to give you everything you had given to me and more.
“I am only retiring from playing football. I am not retiring from New Orleans. This is not goodbye, rather a new beginning. Now my real life’s work begins!”
A second-round pick out of Purdue in the 2001 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, for whom he played five years before signing with New Orleans in 2006, Brees retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards (80,358) and is second in all-time in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7 percent). He finished the 2020 season with 2,942 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He won 142 regular-season games with the Saints, with 86 losses, and went 9-9 in the playoffs, advancing to the postseason nine of the 15 years he played in New Orleans.
“When I was hired by the Saints as head coach in 2006, the very first goal was to establish a functional and winning culture,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said in a statement. “In doing so, it was vital to know what we were looking for in a player — talent, work ethic, makeup, intelligence and leadership are all qualities we found in Drew Brees. We also found a player with a burning desire to win … In a very short period of time, he would help lead a region to recovery and a team to a Super Bowl championship. He was a magnificent leader both on and off the field …
“For all of us that have had the chance to coach him, it has been our privilege, we are better for it. I am forever grateful for what he has done for our team, our community and for me personally.”
Brees will always be remembered for leading a Saints franchise revival after the city of New Orleans endured Hurricane Katrina. He and Coach Payton arrived together in 2006 and they advanced the Saints to the NFC championship game their first year. Three years later, they won the first and only Super Bowl in franchise history, as Brees was named the game’s MVP.
A big reason Brees chose to sign with the Saints and move to a city in so much turmoil was God.
“We were just looking at the sheer devastation and just saying, ‘I’m not going to trust what I see with my eyes here, because my eyes are telling me not to come here. And yet, my heart, my soul, the Lord is telling me that this is our calling,'” Brees said in 2018 in a video for Sports Spectrum. “It’s not about just coming to play football and be a part of the resurgence of a football team or an organization, but it’s about the resurrection, rebirth of a city and we can be a part of that.”
Brees has not been shy about his faith in Christ throughout his career. He gave his life to the Lord on his 17th birthday.
“We all want to be able to see, touch and feel things in order for them to be real. As Christians, we have to understand that God has a plan for us, though at times we will not understand it or agree with it,” Brees said in a 2018 edition of the Sports Spectrum Magazine. “Yet with our trust and faith in Him, we know that this is part of our journey and He will lead us and develop us into who He meant for us to be.”
In 2019, Brees appeared in a video on the “Bring Your Bible” YouTube channel in which he discussed how he’s guided by the love of Christ.
“I live by two very simple Christian fundamentals, and that is love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself,” he said, referencing Mark 12:30-31.
Brees will now have more time than ever to live out his Christian fundamentals with his family.
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