Had to look this up to be certain, but yes, by the final season of Drew Brees’ amazing NFL career, he was dealing with eleven fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. That’s right. Almost half of Brees’ entire rib cage was fractured. His lung was just kind of dangling there. Pretty sure he had multiple other injuries.
Nevertheless, at age 40-going-on-41, Brees champed it out, put up a 24-6 TD/INT ratio in 12 starts, and won a f*cking playoff game with a 107.3 passer rating on 39 attempts — only to be finished off by Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers in the Divisional Round.
On top of all that, Brees has now revealed that his right throwing shoulder is essentially papier-mâché, to the point where even a playful game of catch with his kids requires a southpaw delivery. Otherwise, he’d still be on an NFL field:
“I’ll let you in on a little fact: I don’t throw with my right arm anymore. My right arm does not work. So when I throw in the backyard right now, I throw left-handed. I can play pickleball just ’cause it’s below the waist, but anything above my shoulders, I’ve got a hard time with.”
Hold up…Drew Brees is a lefty now? (No, not clickbait)
The catastrophic shoulder injury Brees suffered legitimately threatened his career. When Brees hit the open market thereafter, Miami Dolphins medical personnel infamously refused to sign off on him. The Nick Saban-led Fins elected to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead. Brees jumped from the Chargers to New Orleans in free agency. The rest is history…and is one of the greatest “what if…?” scenarios of all-time.
Saban may never have returned to the college ranks if he’d gotten Brees on his team. The Dolphins wouldn’t have had to wait until Tua Tagovailoa to have a franchise quarterback. Who knows where the heck the Saints would be right now. Just a mind-blowing butterfly effect.
Other than a couple politically divisive statements — maybe just one about the American flag, I can’t really remember, nor do I care for purposes of this story — it’s hard to be more of a GOAT/model citizen/banner QB for the NFL shield than Drew Brees. This guy is the epitome of grit, determination, perseverance and greatness in professional sports.
Too bad the Saints couldn’t flank him with better defenses during his prime. Brees was easily good enough to win more than one Super Bowl.
Anyway, it’s pretty wild to hear that Brees fully believes he’d still be in action considering he turns 45 in January. Then again, the man who ended his career, TB12, lasted till that very age in the NFL and was still playing at a high level at the end.
Wouldn’t put it past a competitor and health-permitting precise passer of Brees’ caliber.