Brian Allee-Walsh

Who knew an NFL record for most passing yards would start with 7 yards? Not Drew Brees.

Weekly Wednesday press conferences are nothing new for quarterback Drew Brees, as he is the undisputed player spokesman for the New Orleans Saints.


But this week’s circle up with reporters at the team’s training facility had a uniquely different tone.


The questions were more personal in nature, about his pursuit of individual goals, about past and future accomplishments and what they mean to him and his family now and going forward.


And with good reason.


Going into Monday night’s nationally-televised game against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (7:15 p.m., ESPN), No. 9 is on the verge of becoming the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader and needing four TD passes to reach 500 for his storied 18-year career.


Brees did his level best to embrace the moment, help the media do its job, minimize an obvious distraction and maintain proper perspective.


Brees has a job to do, and if within the confines of that job, he gets the necessary passing yards and TD passes to further enhance his burgeoning legacy, then so be it.


But, first and foremost, Brees is trying to win a game and keep the 3-1 Black and Gold atop the NFC South standings.
There is no “I’‘ in Drew Brees.


But there is a “W.’‘


And the chance of the Saints beating the Redskins are far greater if Brees does his job to the best of his ability, and that means completing a high percentage of passes, minimizing his mistakes, moving the chains and getting the offense in the end zone.
The more, the merrier.


The focus, naturally, falls on the passing yardage record: Brees (71,740) needs 201 aerial yards to eclipse New Orleans-native Peyton Manning (71,940) as the league’s all-time leader. In doing so, Brees also would surpass No. 2 Brett Favre (71,838).
To understand Brees’ memorable NFL journey, one should know the circumstances surrounding his first pass completion, albeit a trivial moment in the big picture.


It came in Week 8 of the 2001 season during his rookie year with the San Diego Chargers. On Nov. 4 at Qualcomm Stadium, Brees replaced injured starter Doug Flutie late in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs. On his first NFL dropback, Brees was the victim of a strip-sack but he fell on the loose ball. On the next play, he threw an incompletion and came off the field.


His first NFL completion came early in the third quarter, a 7-yarder to Chargers’ RB Terrell Fletcher. His first TD pass came in the same game, a 20-yarder to TE Freddie Jones.


And now 17 years later, Drew Brees is several months south of 40, the last man still playing from the 2001 draft class, and poised to stand alone.


Who would have known. Who could have known. Not even Drew Brees dreamed of this moment.


Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

On the air

What: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome

TV: ESPN

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