Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are all well into their 30s, with the big four-0 looming in the near future. Despite their age, one could easily make the case that the trio, in any such order, are the three best Quarterbacks in the National Football League. Still spinning the ball at an incredible rate, racking up yards, touchdowns, and playoff wins, the league's three wise men all remain at or very near the top of their respective games despite being firmly entrenched in what would seem to be the twilight of their careers.Instead, these three passers, like that 30-year old bottle of red collecting dust in Grandpappy's wine cellar, just find a way to keep improving with age.
For Drew Brees, in particular, every day is cherished and seen as an opportunity to get better at something. Brees, who turned 35 in January, is a husband, father, entrepreneur and last but not least, successful NFL Quarterback. He is contracted to the Saints for the next two seasons. Entering his 14th year, the former San Diego Charger continues to operate Saints coach Sean Payton's offense at a high level, and has shown no major signs of slowing down. 2013 marked his third straight 5,000 yard passing season and third straight campaign with at least 39 touchdown passes. Over this duration, he has recorded a 103.8 average passer rating. Brees also posted the third-highest completion percentage of his career (68.6%) and his lowest interception rate (1.8) since the 2004 season in 2013. Drew Brees hopes to play into his 40's.
His arrival in New Orleans was preceded by the Shoulder injury which abruptly brought down the curtains on his five years in San Diego. That infamous shoulder did not stop the Saints from bringing him in, and did not prevent Brees from missing a start in his inaugural season as a Saint. In fact, he has never missed a game due to injury in his career. Like Manning (neck surgery) and Brady (knee), Brees has found a way to thrive in the aftermath of a serious injury.
Brees owns a laundry list of league and franchise records, and if he and Sean Payton stay adjoined at the hip for the forseeable future, that list could continue to grow. Brees has never boasted elite arm strength, but his accuracy and ability to throw to locations, along with his intimate knowledge of Payton's system, has helped him stay near the top of the NFL's Quarterback rankings for most of the last eight seasons. Brees is a gym rat and film junkie, knowing most of his opponents as well as they know themselves. These traits do not figure to dissipate any time soon, leaving what would appear to be a closing window still open.
"Do I hope I can play into my 40's? Yes I do," Brees told the Associated Press. "As long as i'm healthy and playing at a high level, then why not?"
Brees has certainly been fortunate to have kept health on his good side since that shoulder injury in late 2005. With the help of a reliable offensive line and an effective set of playmakers at his disposal, the ex-Purdue Boilermaker could one day find himself in the 40-year old Quarterback fraternity. That club has included the likes of George Blanda, Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Len Dawson, Vinny Testaverde and Brees's former Chargers teammate Doug Flutie. All made starts at the age of 40 and beyond.
If Drew Brees keeps producing at the rate he has since he and his then-wounded shoulder arrived in Louisiana, someone will be glad to call him their Quarterback, no matter what number appears under the "age" column. For now, fans of the New Orleans Saints are glad to call him their's. A fine bottle of red to accompany that Jambalaya in maw-maw's big black pot.