Drew Brees gave New Orleans life

Whatever Drew Brees’ NFL legacy will be, it can’t touch what he meant for the New Orleans Saints franchise.

Other than perhaps John Elway with the Denver Broncos, no one player and franchise are tied together as closely as Brees and the Saints. Before Brees, the Saints were one of the worst NFL franchises. He signed with New Orleans in 2006, and a few years later the Saints were Super Bowl champions. Brees is the face of the Saints and it’s not even an argument.

Brees also had a big impact on the city of New Orleans itself. He arrived shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit the city, at a time when the Saints moving to San Antonio was a regular topic.

Tyrann Mathieu is a star safety for the Kansas City Chiefs now, but he was a teenager in New Orleans when Brees got there. He thanked Brees on behalf of the city after what was reportedly Brees’ last NFL game.

Tyrann Mathieu says Drew Brees ‘gave us all life’

Brees’ retirement after this season has been widely reported. While he could change his mind, plenty of signs pointed to Sunday’s playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being his final game.

There will be a lot written about Brees and his impact on the NFL, the Saints and New Orleans, but Mathieu might have summed it up best in a single tweet.

Brees found himself in the middle of a firestorm this past offseason when he addressed players kneeling for the national anthem and said he couldn’t agree with anyone disrespecting the flag. That led to criticism from many players, including his own teammates.

But Mathieu’s words indicate that his legacy in New Orleans is more than that controversy.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) leaves the field after Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Brees had an impact on New Orleans

Brees won the 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, given for charitable efforts off the field. Brees was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 2010, in large part because of his efforts helping out the New Orleans community after Hurricane Katrina. Last year Brees and his wife Brittany donated $5 million for hunger relief in Louisiana amid the coronavirus pandemic, then they donated another $5 million later in the year for healthcare centers.

For someone from Texas, who got to New Orleans via Purdue and then through five seasons with the San Diego Chargers, his impact on all of Louisiana can’t be understated.

Mathieu, one of the stars the city has produced, did a pretty good job putting it into perspective.

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