METAIRIE, La. — Ten years ago and what likely feels like a lifetime ago for Drew Brees, there was a time he wasn’t so dominant.
He wasn’t the player everyone sees today, the one who can put the ball precisely where he wants it to be.
And Brees came to a fork in his career path. He could either take the road that would lead to a career of average play or the one that led to something special.
With all due respect for the shoulder injury that ended his time in San Diego, his turning point came earlier.
It came in a seven quarter swing in 2003 beginning with his first-ever start in a Monday night game, one against Miami – the same franchise that turned him down in 2006.
It’s also the franchise Brees’ Saints will play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on, you guessed it, a Monday night.
“We ended up losing that game; I didn’t play very well,” Brees said. “I think our record was 1-5 or maybe 1-6 at the time. The very next week, we went to Chicago and I got benched in the third quarter of that game. I was benched for five games.
“That was really a defining moment and the turning point in my career: that whole experience, that year, all of the adversity.”
Indeed he did not. Brees was just 19 of 30 against Miami, throwing for 190 yards and three touchdowns. A week later on November 2, 2003, he started 7 of 15 and threw another interception.
He didn’t see the field again until Dec. 14 against Green Bay and finished the season with a 67.5 QB rating and an 11-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He hasn’t finished with a rating below 89.2 or a touchdown-to-interception ratio that bad again.
That includes 13 Monday night games in which he has thrown 29 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and has averaged a 104.4 QB rating. He’s 10-4 overall on Monday night, winning eight consecutive games.
“They are always big games,” Brees said. “They are always against very good opponents. They are always very meaningful just from the standpoint of it’s in your division or you’re playing a very good team or it’s the battle of the unbeaten or whatever it might be.”
Monday night, it’s a battle of unbeatens. And if Brees plays the way he has on Monday Night Football since that first one, the home team could just be the team that remains without a blemish on its record.