Drew Brees commemorative football

Drew Brees sent commemorative footballs, like the one pictured, to all receivers and blockers who contributed to his career passing record.

Drew Brees' reason was simple. 

"Take care of those who take care of me," Brees said. 

It's why Brees sent a commemorative football to every player who caught a pass or blocked for him on his way to setting the NFL's career passing record.

"I wanted to do something for everybody," Brees said Friday. "Obviously the emotions that came after that and just the reflections. It was good that we were going into a bye week because it gave me a chance just to take a deep breath. And you just start thinking about all the guys that had a hand in that. And so I think naturally you start thinking, ‘OK, well, a lot of people have caught those balls."

Brees set the record on Oct. 8 in a Monday night game against the Washington Redskins when he surpassed Peyton Mannning on the all-time list.

There were a total of 174 balls sent out, according to a list provided by the Saints.

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The list included 99 players who have caught a pass, 96 players who blocked for Brees, 11 coaches and eight contributors. Brees also included a signed letter with the ball. 

When Brees first came up with the idea, the plan was to send balls to just the receivers.

Then he expanded on it.

"Well, it’s not just about the receivers, it’s about the guys blocking," Brees said. "So it’s like, ‘Alright, let’s find every offensive lineman that’s ever started a game.’ So we did that. Then I started thinking about coaches, then I started thinking about other people as well. So it was actually a long list. But I just wanted to do that for them."

Former teammates heve sent Brees videos of them opening their gift. He's received videos from guys like LaDanian Tomlinson and Brandin Cooks.

Saints rookie Tre'Quan Smith received his in the mail. Smith caught the record-setting pass, scoring on a 62-yard touchdown on the play. 

"That just means a lot," Smith said. "That’s the kind of person he is. I don’t know if everybody does that, but him sending out balls and sending out letters to guys who helped him accomplish his mission just shows what kind of guy he is. You want to be around somebody like that who shows appreciation."

Smith is one of 15 current Saints who caught pass in Brees' record-setting journey.  Current tight end Ben Watson is another. 

“It’s him," Watson said. "It’s surprising but it’s not surprising at the same time that he would give a special thanks to the guys that helped him along the way. Obviously this is his accomplishment but him being the leader that he is, he loves to defer praise to other people. ... It is special playing a small part of history."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.