Seven years ago today, the Saints made possibly the biggest move in the NFC South’s short history and easily the most important move in franchise history.
You see, the team agreed to terms on a six-year contract with quarterback Drew Brees on March 14, 2006.
The New Orleans Saints haven’t been the same since.
His stats: 2,910-for-4,340 passing (67.1 percent) for 33,571 yards. He has 244 touchdowns passes and 112 interceptions and a 98.2 quarterback ranking.
Since he came to New Orleans, no quarterback is within 5,800 yards of what Brees has done (Philip Rivers is No. 2 with 27.743 yards).
Only one other quarterback has thrown at least 200 touchdowns – Tom Brady’s 211 – and that’s 33 fewer than Brees.
And Brees’ 67.1 completion percentage is best in the NFL over that time for anyone who has played at least 75 games or thrown at least 3,000 passes.
More importantly for New Orleans, however, is that Brees’ on-field leadership is unmatched. His understanding of Sean Payton’s offense and what the coach is trying to do and wanting to do makes the Saints a tough out no matter the situation.
Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis took a chance on Brees, who came to New Orleans months after dislocating his right throwing shoulder while also tearing the labrum.
Brees rewarded them with immediate success. The Saints have led the league in total offense four of the past seven years (2000, 2008, 2009, 2011).
He also brought the long-suffering franchise its first-ever Super Bowl appearance and victory.
But Brees hasn’t just been a boon for the team. He has been a tremendous ambassador for the city in its long-running recovery from Katrina and man-made disaster that followed.
He has raised money and doled it out to local charities. He has helped local entrepreneurs. He has opened businesses.
In other words, March 14 will be a day no one with the Saints will ever forgot. It’s the day that, whether anyone knew it or not, the Saints’ history and fortunes changed.