New Orleans Saints

Patriots-Saints clash showcases aging stars Brady, Brees

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9). The Patriots and the Saints meet Sunday in New Orleans.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9). The Patriots and the Saints meet Sunday in New Orleans. Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS Brady, Brees and Bono. How’s that for a middle-aged power trio?

When New England quarterback Tom Brady and his prolific New Orleans counterpart, Drew Brees, take the Superdome field on Sunday, it'll be just days after U2’s concert. Seems fitting, given the association the Irish rockers had with key moments for both franchises in that stadium.

U2 played when the renovated Superdome reopened a year after Hurricane Katrina for the Saints’ triumphant 2006 home opener . They also played halftime of Brady and the Patriots’ maiden Super Bowl victory in the Big Easy in 2002.

For many football fans in New Orleans, U2’s latest Superdome show Thursday night served as an apt prelude to a game featuring two quarterbacks who are not only among the most accomplished in NFL history, but who can actually remember when “The Joshua Tree” album came out in 1987.

The Saints presented the band with a football signed by Brees and coach Sean Payton. U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. wore a T-shirt with “Saints” printed on the back, and the crowd roared when it was shown on the big screen. U2 also played riffs of “The Saints Are Coming” – which they’d also performed with Green Day at the dome’s ‘06 reopening – as Saints-style fleur-de-lis symbols scrolled up the expansive screen behind the stage.

Now 40, Brady and Brees, 38, come in highly motivated to help their clubs recover from Week 1 losses.

“It is very important. It is our home opener and we want to get everybody back on track,” Brees said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of things to correct.”

Similarly, Brady noted that the Patriots “played very poorly in the fourth quarter” of a season-opening loss to Kansas City.

This week, they must “be the kind of players that our teammates can depend on and try to go get a win at a very tough place to play,” Brady said.

They also hope their careers are nowhere near over, particularly after last season, when Brees led the NFL in yards passing. Brady led the Patriots to a fifth Super Bowl title.

“I’d say we probably both have the mindset that we want to change the norm of what is possible in regards to how long a guy can play and the level that they can play at,” Brees said.

Brady said it was “pretty cool,” some 18 years after that college meeting, to play the latest of several games against Brees.

“I have so much respect for Drew and what he’s accomplished,” Brady said. “Playing against him for a long time; I know the challenges a Drew Brees-led team presents. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Game plan

What: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome

When: Sunday, Noon

TV: CBS

Radio: WWL 870 AM, 105.3 FM

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