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Drew Brees announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday.
He made an announcement on his Instagram — 15 years to the day he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
“After 20 years as a player in the NFL and 15 years as a Saint, it is time I 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 to you everything you had given to me and more,” he wrote in his post.
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“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!”
Brees’ captioned the post with a video of his children announcing that their dad is going to step away from the NFL. They said he is “going to spend more time with us” and cheered after making the announcement.
Tributes began to pour in for Brees as his announcement made waves in the NFL world.
The San Diego Chargers selected Brees in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played one game that season after spending most of it as Doug Flutie’s backup.
He would launch his successful stint with the Chargers in 2002 when he won the starting job. He would play in 59 games for the Chargers before a critical decision during the 2006 season changed the trajectory for several people in the NFL.
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Brees needed surgery after the 2005 season to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder with reports saying at the time he had rotator cuff damage as well. The quarterback hit free agency and got a five-year offer from the Chargers, who wouldn’t increase their terms while the Saints and the Miami Dolphins offered him more money.
The Dolphins, who were coached by Nick Saban at the time, were interested but backed out of the negotiating table over concerns about Brees’ injury. The team elected to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead. Culpepper only played four games for Miami that season and Saban would later bounce from the NFL to college to coach for Alabama and later become one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time.
Brees elected to sign with the Saints and was an All-Pro quarterback and Pro Bowler in his first season with them.
By the 2009 season, Brees got the Saints to Super Bowl XLIV and they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Brees was 32-for-39 with 288 passing yards and had two touchdown passes in the game. Brees was named Super Bowl MVP.
Despite leading high-powered offenses year in and year out, Brees and the Saints would not make it back to the Super Bowl. The Saints suffered countless heartbreak in the playoffs, including in the 2018 NFC Championship where a blown defensive pass interference call changed the game and allowed the Los Angeles Rams to get to the Super Bowl over the Saints.
Brees is a clear-cut Hall of Famer who will definitely be enshrined in Canton one day.
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He finishes his career first all-time in passing yards (80,358), second in passing touchdowns (571), fifth in passer rating (98.7), second in completion percentage (67.8%) and third in fourth-quarter comebacks (36).
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