Drew Brees was still on the Superdome field almost two hours following what was likely his final game in the New Orleans Saints’ historic home building.
Brees, who is widely expected to retire after 20 seasons, failed to formally announce his intentions following a disappointing 30-20 reduction to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday. However he made sure to soak everything in.
Brees and his wife, Brittany, spent some time playing with their four kids — a few football and some gymnastics. In addition, he spent some time conversing with longtime friend and rival Tom Brady. After the two all time great quarterbacks shared a pastime, Brady even threw a pass to one of Brees’ kids before continuing to the NFC Championship Game.
Rather, he threw three interceptions in a playoff match for the very first time in his career while Tampa Bay rallied back from a 20-13 deficit in the next quarter.
“I am gonna give myself an chance to think about the season, consider a great deal of things, like I did last season, and also make a decision,” Brees said when asked directly if he just played his final game.
He explained his performance Sunday or the way the season ended would have no bearing on his decision. But when asked what would weigh into the decision, Brees said,”I will keep this to myself now.”
Brees did add, however, that he had no regrets about coming back this season after he murdered after last year.
“I’d never repent it.
No regrets. Man, I’ve tried to play this game with a great respect and a great reverence for this. And I appreciate all that this game has given to me personally,” said Brees, who led the Saints to their only Super Bowl win in business history in 2009 and holds the NFL record for career passing yards. “There are so many incredible memories, so many amazing relationships that come as a result of playing this sport. And, man, you find out so much on your own and you have to struggle through so much once you play with this game.
“And I’d say this seasonI probably needed to fight through more than I’ve ever needed to at any other period in my career — from injury to all of the COVID stuff to only crazy conditions. Plus it was worth every second of it. Absolutely.”
Saints coach Sean Payton also stated he could not speak for Brees and did not want to spend time reflecting on Brees’ future Hall of Fame career just yet.
“Oh listen, I think that is probably for another press conference,” Payton said. “That would occupy all my time on your own query . Obviously, he’s been enormous with this team, this town, I really could go on and on. But let us wait and reply at the right moment.”
Other teammates, by veteran linebacker Demario Davis to young receiver Tre’Quan Smith, both used the exact same word when asked what Brees has meant to them –“everything.”
If this was Brees’ final game, he did not get the kind of career send-off fellow all time greats such as John Elway or Peyton Manning got. In reality, it had been the exact opposite.
Brees completed 19 of 34 passes for only 134 yards with one touchdown on a night when he fought to find the ball downfield more than usual. The Saints’ biggest passing play came after backup Jameis Winston threw a 56-yard TD pass on a trick-play flea-flicker that the Saints stole in the Chicago Bears, who attempted it against the Saints per week before.
And Brees failed to link even once with top receiver Michael Thomas on four aims. Brees’ first interception in the second quarter came after the Saints were leading 6-3 and he underthrew Thomas. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting pounced facing it and nearly returned it for a touchdown.
The third interception came on a tipped pass when the Saints were trailing 30-20 with over five minutes remaining.
High-end Jared Cook also dropped a crucial fumble in the third quarter when the Saints were leading 20-13 and’d only crossed midfield.
“I would say it’s pretty uncharacteristic because we preach playing’winning football.’
“Well, a few of them I probably should not have thrown and maybe compelled it in there. And we were probably only a little off on the overall execution,” Brees said. “But at the end of the day, that’s exactly what this match came down to was those turnovers.”