MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The picture will all but likely be emblazoned into anyone’s memory who was watching Super Bowl XLIV – Drew Brees, holding son Baylen, confetti flittering all around them.
A day after the Saints beat Indianapolis 31-17 to win the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl, it’s now so easy to see that as long as Brees is with the Saints, there will be somebody there to hold up the club.
Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis might have built these Saints, but Drew Brees is the father.
He’s the one everyone turned to Sunday night in Sun Life Stadium and expected to lead the way, to let the team know everything was going to be alright.
“Everybody loves him,” said wide receiver Lance Moore, recipient of a Brees pass on a crucial 2-point conversion. “He’s the type of person that you dream about playing for. He’s a leader. He works the hardest. And he shows up every Sunday. Every Sunday he shows up and plays a hell of a game. (Sunday) was no exception.”
We all certainly understand that this was about Payton, too.
That Payton wisely put together this team, that he made all the right moves this season, that his aggressive style of play-calling – think second-half onside kick – helped the Saints get to this point.
Make no mistake, though, without Brees, the Saints don’t ever make it to Miami other than to play on Oct. 25 against the Dolphins.
“If he hasn’t been included in the ‘Whose the best quarterback in the league’ talks, he’s definitely in that conversation now,” said Saints offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb, one of the longest-tenured and longest-suffering players on the team.
“On such a big stage to show up and have the type of performance he had, he’s such a special player, such a special teammate. (We’re) so grateful to have him in this locker room.”
Brees is the undisputed leader of the Saints and this coming Sunday, he’ll be the king of Bacchus.
But he’s also something else – the king of New Orleans, a moniker that he earned before Feb. 7, 2010 but one that was solidified that night.
Leading a franchise that for so long had been downtrodden and a joke around the country to a Super Bowl is one thing.
Leading a city that has been fighting for respect and revival less than five years removed from the nation’s greatest natural disaster, well, that’s something much grander.
“Just feeling like it was meant to be,” Brees said after the game. “It’s all destiny and what can I say? The birth of my son this year as well and the first year of his life, we’ve got a Super Bowl championship. He has been my inspiration as well. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Ah, back to Baylen.
Indeed, Baylen might have been Brees’ inspiration this past year. But Brees has been an inspiration to an entire city.
New Orleans only hopes he holds on for a long, long time.