Brian Allee-Walsh

Brady vs. Brees: Are these future Hall of Famers going head-to-head for the last time?

Saints columnist Brian Allee-Walsh
Saints columnist Brian Allee-Walsh Biloxi

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady turned 40 Aug. 3. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will celebrate his 39th birthday Jan. 15.

Each is in relatively good health on the eve of Sunday's matinee matchup at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a game that promises to be a spirited and high-scoring contest between two 0-1 teams.

Each player is playing at an elite level, remains the face of his franchise and continues to add to his burgeoning NFL legacy. Each hopes to defy logic, history and overwhelming odds and play the game he loves well into his 40s.

Time will tell.

Meantime, I'm going to venture out on a limb here -- a strong one, perhaps, but a limb, nevertheless -- and say this is the last time the Killer Bs will share a playing field for a meaningful game in New Orleans. Both are nearing an end to their Hall of Fame careers and eventually will price themselves out of the league if health issues don't get them first. Unless, of course, they agree to play for peanuts, which I don't see happening.

I don't see either of these proud warriors who's accustomed to earning upwards of $25 million annually staying on as a backup, mentoring his successor, holding a clip board or mopping up to kill the final, meaningless minutes of a game.

I suspect that when the time comes, each will know when it's time to retire and leave on his own terms, triggering the countdown to a first-ballot entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

That said, we should cherish this moment because the NFL sun, moon and stars may not align again.

Barring a chance meeting in a future Super Bowl, the league schedule won't bring them together again until the 2021 season when teams from the NFC South play teams from the AFC East.

Know this: We are seeing greatness Sunday in every sense of the word when it comes to Brady and Brees. The word "great'' is thrown around far too often when pundits, bloggers and talking heads describe our present day athletes. But there is no disputing where these two quarterbacks stand.

Each resides in rarefied air.

Brees (66,402 yards, 466 touchdowns) stands third behind Peyton Manning (71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns) and Brett Favre (71,838 yards, 508 touchdowns) in terms of career passing yards and touchdown passes. Brady stands fourth (61,849 yards, 456 touchdowns).

In head-to-head matches, Brees leads 3-1, including a 38-17 victory in Week 12 of the 2009 season en route to a 13-0 start and eventually a win in Super Bowl XLIV. Brees posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating In that Monday night game.

Eight years later, Brady and Brees are still playing at a high level with no end in sight.

Who would've thunk?

Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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