Drew Brees is heading into his ninth year wearing his No. 9 jersey for the Saints, and there’s no doubt about one thing: New Orleans’ franchise quarterback is to blame for a lot of celebratory hangovers.
He’s led the Saints to half of the 10 playoff appearances they’ve ever made. He’s helped them win three of their five division titles. He’s taken them to both of the NFC Championship Games they’ve been to. He was the MVP of their sole Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2009 season.
And, perhaps most importantly in this city, Brees has beaten the Falcons 13 of the 16 times he’s faced them since joining the Saints as a free agent in 2006.
What else needs to be known about the man?
Well, the outpouring of support Brees received last week following the birth of Rylen — his and his wife Brittany’s first daughter and fourth child — served as the latest example that New Orleans won’t soon have its fill of No. 9.
The Twitter announcement of his girl’s birth generated 4,373 retweets and 10,900 favorites, and he received a standing ovation from fans when he stepped onto the field for a training camp practice open to the public the next day.
So here’s nine cool facts about No. 9 as he prepares for year nine — three on the business side, three about the family side and three about the national obsession: football.
1. What do massive companies such as Mercedes, Nike, Visa, Pepsi-Cola, Pampers, AdvoCare, Electronic Arts, Vicks, Verizon, Microsoft, Wrangler and Chase Bank have in common? They’ve all hired Brees to be their pitch man at one point and, according to Forbes, they’re all among endorsements that have been worth an estimated $11 million for a quarterback who signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension in 2012.
2. Brees doesn’t just do business with the bigs. Among those he’s pitched products or services for are NOLA Fine Art, based out of Elmwood in Jefferson Parish; Florida Marine Transporters in Mandeville; and the employee federal credit union of Purdue, where he went to college.
3. Brees doesn’t keep all those mega football and endorsements bucks to himself. As Forbes reported, through his Brees Dream Foundation, the Saints quarterback has donated $17 million to charity and schools in New Orleans; San Diego, where he played for the Chargers from 2001-05; and West Lafayette, Indiana, where Purdue is.
4. Named after former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, Texas native Brees isn’t the only member of his immediate family who got the athletic gene. His younger brother, Reid, played baseball at Baylor and finished second in the school’s record books for career Big 12 batting average (.356).
5. Drew and Reid’s uncle Marty Akins quarterbacked the Texas Longhorns from 1972-75. Akins held the school records for most rushing yards by a quarterback in both a game and career as well as most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback until Vince Young came along. Brees then clashed with Young in 2007 — and the Titans beat the Saints 31-14.
6. Given all that, it’d be a surprise if none of Brees’ children — the oldest of whom, Baylen, is 5 — becomes high-profile athletes. But with the well-documented risks of concussions associated with football, Brees last year vowed to not let his kids play tackle football at too early of an age, saying, “I think you can be too young to strap on a helmet and go out there.”
7. In an Oct. 18, 2009, home win against the New York Giants, and on a 1-yard throw to tight end Jeremy Shockey, Brees began setting his signature NFL record: 54 consecutive regular-season games with at least one touchdown pass. After that streak was broken in a loss at Atlanta on Nov. 29, 2012, Brees faced the Giants again — and began a new one that’s up to 20 games.
8. Four is the number of seasons in which Brees has thrown for 5,000-plus yards. That’s a feat only four other men have accomplished, though never more than once. Three of those men have been chosen for the Associated Press’ prestigious MVP award — but, puzzlingly, Brees has never been tapped for that honor.
9. Brees needs 395 yards to surpass former Denver quarterback John Elway’s 51,475 career passing yards, the fourth-most all-time. Over the past two seasons, Brees has averaged an NFL-best 323.1 passing yards per game, putting him on pace to leave Elway behind when New Orleans visits Cleveland in Week 2.
First up, though, is a Week 1 jaunt to Atlanta at noon Sept. 7. If Brees makes it 14-3 against the Dirty Birds, chalk up another long night in New Orleans to him.