A 62-yard touchdown pass by Drew Brees to rookie wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith late in the second quarter of the Saints’ 43-19 win over the Washington Redskins on Oct. 8 not only put the Saints up 26-6 over the Redskins at the time, but gave Brees the all-time record in passing yards in a career, passing Peyton Manning for the top spot. Manning amassed 71,940 yards during his career. Following the win over the Redskins, Brees now has 72,103 passing yards for his career.
As Smith made his catch, it seemed that time began to slow and everything froze—so badly I may add that it looked like the Redskins players somewhat gave up midway through the play to watch history.
I was one of the many normal people who gazed in admiration while watching greatness unfold. Like so many times before, Brees’ on the field accomplishments united sports fans.
Just watching it, a state away in a sports bar filled with a bunch of people felt exciting. Like the Redskins players, it was a moment where you just had to sit back and enjoy.
But Brees’ record was rivaled by an unscripted event. When Brees ran to his kids and said, “You can accomplish anything in life if you are willing to work for it,” he said it is what he tells his kids every night when he puts them into bed.
As a native of New Orleans, the only thing that could be felt is pride for the man who helped a city heal its wounds in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was six years old when Katrina hit Louisiana and I remember the entire experience. However, as bad as the storm turned out to be, the bigger impact was growing up in a city that was, for a lack of a better term, depressed. New Orleans is a city that takes so much pride in its culture, and seeing so many places that helped to define the city’s culture disappear truly was a blow.
For so many years, Brees helped one of the city’s proudest possessions, the Saints, become the much-needed escape from reality. As he has done so many times before, Brees managed to do it again during the Monday night victory.
However, the moment was not only about the Brees’ history with the city. Instead, it was about city that was proud of its hero. For a guy who put his career on the line and turned not only a franchise around but a city’s mentality, it was just a gracious thank you. Watching fans break into tears as Brees broke the record is the impact and footprint that he left on the city.
What I think resonated most for me is found in Brees’ postgame interview. As he was trying to hold back tears, Brees never once used the word ‘I’ or in anyway said ‘I achieved,’ which is a testament to his humble character. He thanked everyone and genuinely made everyone feel that it was their record when rightfully, it is his. He gave everyone credit, coaches, teammates, his family and, us, the fans.
So Drew, we thank you for just letting us be a part of the ride.