After months of speculation, Drew Brees officially announced his retirement in March. He wraps up one of the most productive careers that any quarterback has had in NFL history, and will be an easy first ballot Hall of Famer in a few years.
Brees remained productive through his final NFL season with the New Orleans Saints in 2020, but injuries started to mount, and late this year, it definitely looked like his arm strength had diminished a bit. “I had the thumb that ruled me five games two years ago, and then had the ribs and the lung that holds me out for four games this past year. Could I keep playing? Yeah, I’m sure I could. But I’m also looking at my kids, my family, the age of my kids, and just gauging all of those things,” Brees said in March, about his decision.
During the 2020 season, there were plenty of reports that it would be his final year. Some thought he might return for one more run at another Super Bowl, especially after his trainer Todd Durkin posted a workout video of the quarterback in February.
“He posted that and he texted me, ‘Watch what this stirs up.’ It was pretty funny. I knew I was retiring,” Brees told ProFootballTalk‘s Mike Florio this week.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 6, 2021
“It was something I’ve been thinking about at this stage in your career,” Drew Brees continued. “I think it’s — you really don’t know what that feeling’s going to be like, right? You love the game, it’s been such a big part of your life for so long. You know you can play at a high level still and you’re obviously trying to achieve a goal which is to go win another championship.
“At the same time, I think you also recognize the balance of life and the fact that, listen, I’ve got four kids that are not so small anymore.”
Brees said that when he made the decision to return in 2020, he knew it would be his final season. It wasn’t the first time he contemplated retirement, though. That came in 2017. Ultimately, he decided to play three more years, and says that he cherished all of the moments of those final seasons more than he had any of the ones that came before.
“I’m going to pour everything I can into it. I’m also going to take the extra time that maybe I haven’t in the past to just enjoy the little things. Like enjoy the locker room a little more. Maybe when I would’ve gone and done something else, I’m going to stay in the locker room and play a ping pong game with some of the guys and build a camaraderie. I’m going to enjoy the plane rides home a little bit more. I’m going to do all those things that maybe are a little bit different than what I normally would’ve done just to soak it all in. Just to enjoy it.”
“I had more fun playing football than I ever had in my career those last couple years. We had a great team. We had a great nucleus. We had great leadership. That was a huge part of that. It was that one-year approach. It really was. I would say going into even ’19 season it was like, ‘Alright this may be it.’ When I decided to come back in ’20, I knew that was it.”