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Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Drew Brees has built such a strong relationship with the city of New Orleans that he can finally admit it: He was leaning toward signing with the Miami Dolphins three years ago when the two NFL teams and cities were ...

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Old 10-21-2009, 11:23 PM   #1
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Drew Brees has built such a strong relationship with the city of New Orleans that he can finally admit it: He was leaning toward signing with the Miami Dolphins three years ago when the two NFL teams and cities were competing for his services during free agency.
From a football perspective, it was a no-brainer. The Saints had just finished a dismal 3-13 season and were starting over with a new coach in Sean Payton. The Dolphins, meanwhile, had rebuilt themselves under former LSU coach Nick Saban, coming off a respectable 9-7 season.
"And just looking at it from an outsider's perspective, not knowing anything about New Orleans other than Mardi Gras, you're thinking 'New Orleans vs. Miami,' " said Brees, Miami rolling off his tongue like a game-show host announcing the grand prize. "And I'm coming from San Diego, where Miami would be less of a transition. So naturally going into it, I was leaning toward Miami."
New Orleans, on the other hand, was in obvious transition. About six months earlier, the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, leaving its future and that of its NFL franchise in doubt.
But all of Brees' concerns were quashed after one aggressive recruiting trip in which he visited Saints officials. After visiting the team's brass, the then-27-year-old quarterback felt like he had found a place where he belonged.
While the Dolphins weren't as committed to Brees because of concerns about his ability to recover from major shoulder surgery, the Saints "pulled out all the stops," according to Payton, in pursuit of the Pro Bowl quarterback.
"We were gonna be 'all in,' " Payton said. "We weren't gonna be lukewarm."
Needless to say, things have turned out pretty well for both sides, enough that Brees said he won't be spending much time thinking about "what might have been" as the 5-0 Saints travel to Miami to face the 2-3 Dolphins on Sunday.
David Grunfeld/The Times-Picayune archive
Three years ago, the Miami Dolphins had concerns about Drew Brees' ability to recover from major shoulder surgery. He has come back stronger and better than ever, and was photographed Oct. 4 calling a play against the New York Jets in the Superdome.
"No, because nothing could have worked out better than it has here," said Brees, who has made his presence felt both on the field and off.
He took a break from lighting up opposing defenses Tuesday when he and his wife, Brittany, attended the dedication of the Brees Family Field at Lusher Charter School, which was renovated through funding from the Brees Dream Foundation and Operation Kids.
It is one of 12 projects throughout New Orleans aided by Brees' charitable arm, which has raised $1.8 million.
Brees was recognized for his various good works by the NFL, and after his first season with the Saints he was selected its Man of the Year. He shared the honor with former Chargers teammate LaDainian Tomlinson for their contributions on and off the field
Said Brees: "This is where I belong, and I felt like this was a calling."
'You are our guy'
The Saints can admit something, too. They got lucky when Brees went down with a torn labrum and damaged rotator cuff in his right, throwing arm during the final game of the 2005 season. The injury and subsequent recovery time scared off almost every team in the NFL in free agency two months later.
Brees' former team, the Chargers, showed tepid interest and offered a minimal deal for him to stay. Kansas City kicked the tires, as did Detroit, Brees recalled.
All of a sudden, Brees needed the Saints as much as they needed him.
"And there were some others that kind of poked their head in," he said. "But the only two legitimate ones were Miami and New Orleans."
It didn't take long, however, before Brees determined that one was more serious than the other.
Though Brees scheduled his first visit to New Orleans on the opening day of free agency, Saban and then-Dolphins General Manager Randy Mueller flew to Birmingham, Ala., where Brees was rehabbing his shoulder, to squeeze in a breakfast meeting.
But then Drew and Brittany hopped aboard Saints owner Tom Benson's private plane, and the Saints began to run up the score on the Dolphins.
"The trips were very different in the feelings that I got from the people," said Brees, who visited New Orleans with Brittany on Saturday and Sunday, then flew to Miami for a Sunday-Monday visit. "Miami was one of those kind of places that, like, everyone would just expect, 'Why wouldn't you want to come to Miami?' Whereas New Orleans was like, 'We want you.' Like, 'We really want you. You are our guy. We have as much confidence in you as you have in yourself to come back from this injury and be better than you ever were before. And not only from the standpoint of the organization and the team, but also what you can do for the city.'
"When I came here, it was talking to Sean, talking to the rest of the coaches, talking to Mr. Benson, talking to (General Manager Mickey Loomis), driving around town, going to restaurants. Just like, 'Man, this is what we've got. Here's our facility. Here's the offense. This is how you could be a part of it. This is what we made for you.'
"Then I go to Miami, and it's like, 'OK, you've got this doctor's appointment, you've got this nerve test.' It was like I was there to convince them I could still play."
Brees recalled having a meeting with Saban at the end of his visit, and Saban "was just kind of like, 'We'll see what the test results say, and I'll get back to you.' "
"And I was like, do you want me here or not?" Brees said. "And he was like, 'Well, yeah, I do, I just have to make sure.' "
The teams differed on their financial limits, as well. The Saints offered a guaranteed $10 million in the first year of a six-year, $60 million deal. The Dolphins weren't willing to guarantee that much money. So instead of entering a bidding war, they instead decided to trade for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper, interestingly enough, had his own health issues. He blew out a knee the season before that required major reconstructive surgery, but the Dolphins liked his prognosis for a quicker recovery than Brees' -- a decision that helped set the franchise reeling.
The Dolphins have started seven quarterbacks since the start of the 2006 season, and they've had three head coaches -- though they finally righted the ship under new coach Tony Sparano last season.
Doug Parker/The Times-Picayune archive
Drew Brees led the Saints to the NFC championship game in his first season, and has thrown for more than 15,000 yards and 100 touchdown passes during the past four years without missing a start. He was photographed in December 2006 in the Superdome tunnel.
Saban, who went back to college, taking the Alabama job in 2007, declined an interview request for this article. But he said in the past that he had to trust the medical evaluation of Brees' shoulder, which was uncertain at best.
Although Brees' surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, vouched for Brees' recovery, the Dolphins consulted six medical experts across the country before making their decision.
"It was a medical decision," Saban said during the 2006 season. "I don't think medicine, personnel or any of that is an exact science. I think we have good, professional people in that area. I think they made the best judgment they could make at the time relative to the circumstances.
"No one could predict the future."
The scenic route
Not even the Saints could have imagined how well things would turn out, with Brees coming back stronger and better than ever, leading the Saints to the NFC championship game in his first season, and throwing for more than 15,000 yards and 100 touchdown passes during the past four years without missing a start.
But as Payton and Loomis have both said over the years, the injury risk was worth the potential reward.
"There was still a little uncertainty with the shoulder, but I think we felt like it was a player who was going to do the extra things to rehab and come back strong," said Payton, who thought he almost botched his recruiting pitch when he wound up getting lost somewhere between Metairie and Kenner while driving Drew and Brittany around town.
After a lengthy sales pitch at the Saints' practice facility with Payton, offensive coordinator Doug Marrone and quarterbacks coach Pete Carmichael, among others, Payton then drove Drew and Brittany about the city, touring hurricane-ravaged areas, historic attractions, golf courses and potential areas where the couple might want to live.
But after he came back across the Causeway, aiming to return to the practice facility, Payton, a neophyte to the area as well, went the wrong way off Interstate 10 and spent 30 or 45 minutes trying to find his way back before calling Loomis for directions.
"Oh, clearly, I'm thinking this hasn't gone smooth. And it was already a difficult one to begin with, considering the condition of the city at that time was awful," Payton said. "Brittany's in the back seat of the car dozing off, and now our itinerary's off. We were supposed to have two hours of down time before having dinner at Emeril's, and now I'm dropping them off late."
Brees said the way he remembers it, he didn't think they were lost. He just figured Payton was taking the scenic route at the time.
Brees does remember ruling out the north shore as a possible destination, though, after those long drives across the Causeway.
"I just remember going across that Causeway and you look out and you don't see any land, and it's just that, 'Bu-dump, bu-dump, bu-dump, ' you know, of the road as you're going across the Causeway, " Brees said. "And I remember kind of dozing off a little, and I was thinking, 'I can't live across this bridge. I'll fall asleep on this bridge every day.' "
Drew and Brittany chose Uptown, instead, where they restored a 100-year-old house, because that felt like the real New Orleans to them, and they wanted to embrace their new community with open arms.
Settling in Uptown
Brees, his wife and their 9-month-old son, Baylen, chose to live in Uptown wher ethey restored a 100-year old house. That felt like real New Orleans to them, and they wanted to embrace their new community with open arms.
Brees talked once again Tuesday night at Lusher dedication about how quickly and eagerly the city embraced him and Brittany, and how much they say the feeling is mutual.
He went from knowing very little about the city to feeling as though he's "100 percent" a part of the community.
"I'm proud to call myself a New Orleanian," he said.

Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago | New Orleans Saints Central - - NOLA.com

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Old 10-22-2009, 10:22 AM   #2
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

/sheds single tear.

Another wrinkle here is the Saban saga. If he signs Brees, the fins probably don't go 6-10 in '06. He possibly stays at MIA instead of going to Bama and building the Juggernaut. Auburn Beats bama in the Iron bowl again in 07, tuberville still has his job, and I don't have to listen to the insane Bama fans on sports radio blabber on about being the greatest team in history.

A fair trade for Brees being in NO, I'd say.
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Old 10-22-2009, 10:36 AM   #3
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Brees does remember ruling out the north shore as a possible destination, though, after those long drives across the Causeway.


"I just remember going across that Causeway and you look out and you don't see any land, and it's just that, 'Bu-dump, bu-dump, bu-dump, ' you know, of the road as you're going across the Causeway, " Brees said. "And I remember kind of dozing off a little, and I was thinking, 'I can't live across this bridge. I'll fall asleep on this bridge every day.' "
You can count this as his only bad decision. He could by Mayor or Mandeville about now.
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Originally Posted by WhoDat205 View Post
/sheds single tear.

Another wrinkle here is the Saban saga. If he signs Brees, the fins probably don't go 6-10 in '06. He possibly stays at MIA instead of going to Bama and building the Juggernaut. Auburn Beats bama in the Iron bowl again in 07, tuberville still has his job, and I don't have to listen to the insane Bama fans on sports radio blabber on about being the greatest team in history.

A fair trade for Brees being in NO, I'd say.
WhoDat, I like the way you think. Things could certainly have been different. This was a fun read. I only have one thing to add...Roll Tide!!!
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Old 10-22-2009, 02:38 PM   #5
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Really great post ... Thanks for sharing the article. It always makes players real when you hear things like this ...
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Old 10-22-2009, 03:56 PM   #6
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Originally Posted by exile View Post
You can count this as his only bad decision. He could by Mayor or Mandeville about now.
hell, he could be mayor of N.O. about now... all he'd have to do is throw his hat in the ring.
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Old 10-22-2009, 03:59 PM   #7
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Originally Posted by fhotard View Post
hell, he could be mayor of N.O. about now... all he'd have to do is throw his hat in the ring.
Yeah I guess they both need a mayor at this point.
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Old 10-22-2009, 10:02 PM   #8
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Originally Posted by C17-BING View Post
Really great post ... Thanks for sharing the article. It always makes players real when you hear things like this ...
Thanks !!!
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:27 AM   #9
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Re: Drew Brees has embraced New Orleans, after being tempted by Miami three years ago

Originally Posted by fhotard View Post
hell, he could be mayor of N.O. about now... all he'd have to do is throw his hat in the ring.
Well...he'd have to wait until after the party was over...because everybody knows that people in NO are ready to party at the "drop of a hat".
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