The final stop reached for the legendary Boilermaker

Kelsey O’Loughlin, Senior Writer

In the year 2006, New Orleans – and the Gulf Coast region as a whole – received a gift that would keep on giving for the next decade and a half. Drew Brees joined the Saints organization as a quarterback from Purdue University. One of the most decorated players in NFL history, Brees’s career is filled with breath-stopping moments, record-breaking numbers and heart-crushing defeats that at once shaped player, team and league as a whole.

In 2011, Brees broke the record set in 1984 by Dan Marino with the single-season passing yards record of 5,476. Seven times throughout his career he led the league in passing yards, the most of any quarterback. His career completion percentage is 66.7 percent – the highest among any quarterback who has played more than four seasons; in 2018, he set an official NFL yearly record with 74.4 percent completion. Throughout his whole career, he has completed a total of 7,142 passes.

Before his career with the Saints began, Brees spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers from 2001-2005. As with many great athletes’ stories, Brees refused to be limited by his early difficulties. As the Chargers quarterback in 2003, Brees went 4-12, threw 15 interceptions and only 11 touchdown passes, averaging 192 passing yards per game that season. Brees established himself as pure greatness that year by believing in himself when no one else did. The next season, he led his squad to a 12-4 record and a playoff berth. After tearing his labrum in his last game as a Charger, only the Dolphins and the Saints were willing to sign him as a free agent.

But allow us to go back in time even further, when Brees walked the streets of West Lafayette, Indiana. Then a three-year starter at Purdue, he ended his career with 11,792 passing yards and 90 touchdown passes, throwing only 45 interceptions. Nevertheless, he was a two-time BIG10 Offensive Player of the Year, a 2000 Academic All-American, 2000 Maxwell Award Winner and a two time Heisman Trophy Finalist. In 2001, he led his Boilermakers to the Rose Bowl, making the world and college football aware of Purdue football. On the BIG10 Career list, he ranks first in passing yards and completions. He also ranks second in passing attempts, passing touchdowns, and total offense.

Beyond his remarkable statistics, Brees’s true greatness lay in his intangibles. Starting at Purdue, he was an industrial management major who made community service a priority, eventually winning the Socrates award in 2000 for his outstanding commitment to athletics, academics and community service. In 2006, he was awarded the co-Walter Payton Man of the Year. Not only an astonishingly good player,  Brees was a man of grit, accountability, and pure work. His belief in himself led him to the top time and time again; his character and inner belief were what allowed him to stay there.

All Brees ever needed was a chance, an opportunity. He did not care what anyone else said. The reporters, his coaches, his teammates did not dictate his success and he did not need anyone else’s validation. Brees showed up every time because he believed he could. And then he did.

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