The Quiet Storm opened up on Monday night to say goodbye.
New Orleans officially released wide receiver Marques Colston with a failed physical designation, bringing an air of finality to a release that had been expected since multiple media outlets reported the decision to inform Colston of the move last week.
By the end of the night, Colston, quiet and reserved by nature, issued a heartfelt statement to the franchise and city he made his own over the past decade, first by reminding fans of his humble beginnings.
“First, I want to thank the New Orleans Saints for providing me the opportunity to spend the last 10 years with such a first-class organization,” Colston wrote to open his statement. “It truly is, and always will be, a dream come true for a young athlete out of Hofstra University.”
Part of Colston’s mystique is that he was the best of a slew of finds in unlikely places for Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis, who found a No. 1 receiver and the perfect running mate for Drew Brees by using a seventh-round pick on a Hofstra wide receiver whom most draft experts tabbed as a potential tight end.
Colston ended up being so much more than a seventh-round pick, though.
From the start, he was a star, and he now leaves New Orleans as the franchise’s all-time leader in catches (711), yards (9,759) and touchdowns (72). Perennially overlooked at Pro Bowl time, Colston settled instead for becoming the best skill player not named Drew Brees in Saints history, the trusty man on the end of so many Brees’ passes in the most successful era in franchise history.
“To everyone from the Benson family, the front office, coaches, and the training and equipment staff: It has been a pleasure to be part of a family with so many great people,” Colston wrote. “And to my fellow players: thanks to each of you for sharing this journey with me, challenging me to grow as a player, and an individual.
“It’s been an honor to work beside you, and as a team we achieved something that can never be duplicated — the first Super Bowl victory for NOLA.”
Colston kept a quiet profile in the media.
But his teammates saw a different side.
“Gonna miss my dawg Colston being around,” safety Kenny Vaccaro tweeted after the official news of Colston’s release broke. “We had some memorable sauna talks. Greatest Saints WR ever. Can’t wait to see him in the (Ring of Honor).”
At the end of his career, Colston served as a mentor for a new group of Saints receivers, leaving Brees with a capable trio in Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman to keep one of the league’s best passing offenses rolling.
For those young receivers, Colston’s legacy looms large.
“Salute to one of the greatest to play the WR position, Marques Colston,” Snead tweeted. “It’s been an honor bro. Stay blessed.”
Colston’s story also served as inspiration beyond the locker room.
When the Saints drafted Colston, they brought him to a city still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, and something about the story of a rags-to-riches receiver, a team pulling itself out of decades of futility and a city in recovery seemed to fit together.
None of that was lost on Colston.
“And last but not least, to the most passionate fans in the world — the WHO DAT Nation — it has been my privilege to represent you on the field,” Colston’s statement read. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of something so much bigger than football in New Orleans. It has been amazing to witness first hand your passion and resilience, even in the face of adversity. Because of you, New Orleans will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Colston, at 33, may find a home in another city next year, providing veteran leadership and production for somebody other than Brees and Payton.
But he made it clear in his farewell to the city that he will always have a special place in his heart for New Orleans.
“It has truly been an honor to wear the Black & Gold,” Colston finished his statement, “and I look forward to the next chapter of my career. #12”