New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees Announces Retires from NFL After 20 Seasons

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One of the most prolific careers in NFL history has come to an end as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced Sunday on Instagram he has decided to retire after 20 seasons.

Brees’ four children announced in a video: “After 15 years with the Saints and 20 years in the NFL, our dad is finally gonna retire. So he can spend more time with us! Yeah!!” said his children, Baylen, Bowen, Callen and Rylen.

Brees added a message to the post that read:

“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. 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, 42, retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards (80,358) and ranks second all-time in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7%). More than that, though, Brees will always be revered for helping to revive the Saints’ franchise and the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when he and coach Sean Payton arrived together in 2006.

They led the Saints to the NFC Championship Game in that first year and won the only Super Bowl in franchise history three years later, with Brees being named the game’s MVP.

“When I was hired by the Saints as head coach in 2006, the very first goal was to establish a functional and winning culture,” Payton said in a statement. “In doing so, it was vital to know what we were looking for in a player, talent, work ethic, makeup, intelligence and leadership are all qualities we found in Drew Brees. … I am forever grateful for what he has done for our team, our community and for me personally.”

Brees never got back to a second Super Bowl despite leading the Saints to four straight NFC South titles over the past four years. His final game was a disappointing 30-20 loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round of the playoffs — the first time he ever threw three interceptions in a playoff game.

His decision to retire leaves an enormous void for the Saints to fill with either Taysom HillJameis Winston or a quarterback to be named later.

Brees’ legacy has long been secured as one of the game’s all-time greats.

On top of all the gaudy numbers and historic accomplishments, Brees will also be remembered as a great underdog story. At just 6 feet tall, Brees was recruited by only two colleges before a record-breaking career at Purdue. He fell to the second round of the draft in 2001, where he began his career with the San Diego Chargers.

In his final game with the Chargers in 2005, Brees suffered a devastating shoulder injury — a 360-degree labrum tear and some rotator-cuff damage, which required 12 anchors to repair. Renowned surgeon James Andrews later said Brees’ recovery was the most remarkable of any athlete he ever treated, and Brees was back on the field with the Saints in Week 1 of that unforgettable 2006 season.

“Drew is so much more valuable than all the records, awards and accolades that he amassed through a 15-year career with the New Orleans Saints and 20-year NFL playing career, one of the greatest in our league’s history,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “When Drew first joined the Saints in 2006, my late husband Tom was determined to deliver a team to New Orleans that would win a championship on the field and become a leader in the community following the setbacks that Hurricane Katrina dealt our region. Over and above his outstanding performance, Drew came to represent the resolve, passion and drive that resonates not only with Saints fans and football fans, but our entire community.”

Brees finished his career with a record of 172-114 as a starting quarterback in the regular season and 9-9 in the postseason. He was 142-86 and 9-8 in 15 years with the Saints, where his partnership with Payton produced some of the most spectacular offensive teams the game has ever seen.

Brees threw for more than 5,000 yards in a season five different times — no other quarterback has done it more than once. He holds the top three single-season completion percentages in NFL history and six of the top nine.

Brees has ranked among the NFL’s top 10 passers in ESPN’s Total QBR metric in all 15 seasons since it was created in 2006; a streak that’s six years longer than that of any other quarterback in that span.

Though he never won a regular-season MVP award, Brees finished second a record four times.

Brees has long said that he believed he could play at a high level until the age of 45 — as long as he wanted to keep playing. But starting in 2017, he also said that he started taking each season one year at a time — treating each like it could be his last — and that he would take some time after each season to reflect with wife Brittany and their kids about whether he wanted to keep playing.

Brees had already lined up his “next chapter” last year, when he agreed to become an analyst for NBC after his playing days were over.

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SOURCE: ESPN, Mike Triplett