Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing — and he did it with a certain panache and precision that made the 39-year-old quarterback look far from finished.
Brees eclipsed Peyton Manning’s previous record of 71,940 yards with a 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tre’Quan Smith during the second quarter of a 43-19 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
“Just so grateful for the opportunity to play this game and to have played it so long and to have the teammates that I have, and the New Orleans Saints organization, and this great city and this great fan base. It’s just truly been a dream come true,” Brees said. “I’ll be able to reflect on it maybe a little bit more when my career is done. I still feel like there’s work to be done.”
After the record-breaking completion, officials stopped the game and the game ball was handed over to Pro Football Hall of Fame officials on the sideline while the Superdome crowd offered a standing ovation. Brees removed his helmet, held out his arm to salute the crowd and hugged his wife, Brittany, and children on the sideline.
“I love you guys so much,” Brees said while hugging his three boys as Brittany held their daughter nearby. “You can accomplish anything in life if you’re willing to work for it.”
Brees entered the game needing 201 yards for the record. He had 250 by halftime. Brees, who already holds the single-season record for completion rate at 72 percent last season, finished the game a remarkable 26 of 29 for 363 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns — two of them going to Smith, a third-round draft choice out of Central Florida has played just five NFL games and is now immortalized because of his role in Brees’ record-breaking pass.
“Congrats on the achievement/milestone. Sheesh that’s a lot of passing yards!!” LeBron James tweeted.
In a victory at Atlanta earlier this season, Brees broke Brett Favre’s career record of 6,300 completions. Brees still needs 41 touchdown passes to surpass Manning’s record of 539, something the Saints quarterback could achieve next season if he maintains his current level of play. But Brees also would have to outpace New England’s Tom Brady, who has 500 TD passes, the only active player with more than Brees in that category. Brees now has 499.
Manning, a New Orleans native whose father, Archie, starred for the Saints, could not attend the game because of a scheduling conflict. However, he had pre-recorded a congratulatory message played on the Superdome’s video boards. Shown on the video slicing tomatoes, Manning deadpanned that his time as the career yards passing leader have been “the greatest thousand days of my life.”
“Thanks to you, that’s over now,” Manning continued as the laughter erupted in the stands. “You’ve ruined that for me.”
“Also, let this serve as the congratulations for the touchdown record because as you can see, I’m very busy,” Manning added. “I don’t have time to keep doing these videos for you.”
On a more serious note, Manning said Brees broke the record “the right way.”
“All your hard work and dedication have paid off,” Manning said while holding up a photo of himself and Brees standing side-by-side in 2000, when Brees was still at Purdue and Manning was a third-year pro. “You and I have come a long way since this picture.”
Saints officials said Brees also would hand his uniform over to the Hall of Fame after the game.
Brees is in his 18th season out of Purdue. The San Diego Chargers took the 6-foot Brees at the beginning of the second round of the 2001 draft, but allowed him to leave in free agency after a major throwing shoulder injury at the end of the 2005 season.
The Saints, at coach Sean Payton’s insistence, took a chance on Brees in 2006, and the payoff has been extraordinary. Brees has passed for more than 59,000 yards and more than 400 TDs in 12-plus seasons for New Orleans, smashing every meaningful Saints passing record while helping long-frustrated franchise win its first Super Bowl in 2010 and go to the playoffs six times.
With the game in hand, Payton subbed Brees off the field after the two-minute warning so the quarterback could have one more interaction with the appreciative crowd.
“He deserves it. It’s been an unbelievable run,” Payton said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been 13 years.”
In 2012, Brees also set the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 54. Brees surpassed Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 straight — which had stood since 1960. Former Saints receiver Devery Henderson, who caught the pass on which Brees broke Unitas’ mark, attended Monday night’s game.
The game featured other touches meant to honor Brees. In the press box, the Superdome catering staff served “beefy mac,” a meal of macaroni with ground beef that has long been one of Brees’ traditional meals on the night before games.
Brees also was the final Saints player to run onto the field during pre-game introductions as fans belted out elongated howls of “Dreeeeeeew.”
Baker Mayfield Looking to Shed Some Weight This Offseason
After being selected with the No. 1 overall pick of 2018 NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield was a sensation for the Cleveland Browns during his rookie season.
The Browns had only won one game over the two years prior to his arrival. Yet Mayfield lead his team to a 6-7 record in his starts, making him the instant face of the franchise.
On the heels of that great season, and with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., Mayfield was supposed to soon lead the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, the 2019 season was a disaster.
Mayfield was a big part of the regression of the Browns as he did not have a great season as their signal-caller.
After breaking Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record with 27 TD passes a year prior, Mayfield threw just 22 touchdowns this season, playing in three more games.
He was also second behind Jameis Winston for most interceptions thrown in the NFL with 21.
In an effort to get back to his better play of the past, Mayfield is focusing on losing some weight this offseason to be slimmer and faster for the upcoming season.
After watching his decline in play, it is fair to wonder if Mayfield came into his sophomore season a little complacent following his big rookie year.
Mayfield was one of the NFL’s top featured athletes when it came to endorsements and may have lost a little bit of focus on his craft.
Now it appears the chip is back on Mayfield’s shoulder once again, as he looks to prove all the doubters wrong and lead the Browns to a much better season in 2020.
Carolina Panthers Plan to Stick with Cam Newton as Starting Quarterback
The Carolina Panthers are going to be entering a new era next season, with Matt Rhule taking over as their head coach after Ron Rivera was fired midseason.
Rivera was at the helm in Carolina dating back to 2011, taking the team to a Super Bowl in 2015.
There has been a lot of debate as to whether the Panthers may move on from the league MVP of that 2015 season as well.
Yet as of now, it appears that Cam Newton is staying put in Carolina.
Newton was limited to just two games played last season due to a foot injury, bringing a lot of concerns of his future health to the surface.
Dual-threat quarterbacks typically age a lot faster than others and no one has taken more hits from that position that Newton since being draft No. 1 overall back in 2011.
The vote of confidence from the Panthers on Newton now could be two-fold. They may feel his injury is rehabbing well, but they also don’t have a lot of options until he can prove healthy.
Other NFL teams are going to be hesitant to trade a significant package for a quarterback that is a huge question mark going into next season. Especially with the sheer depth of options in free agency.
It would also be foolish for Carolina to give Newton anything but a vote of confidence at this point, as any indication that they are ready to move on would only lessen his trade value.
Still, Newton could play a big role in the helping the Panthers remain competitive next season.
After going 5-11 without Newton last season, the Panthers find themselves in the top-10 of the NFL Draft for just the second time since 2012.
With the seventh overall pick, a quarterback like Justin Herbert may be on the table for Carolina to select.
It will be very interesting to see how the Panthers navigate this offseason and whether contingency plans begin to be put in place for life after Cam Newton.
Everson Griffen Opts Out of Contract with the Minnesota Viking to Become Free Agent
Over the past decade there has been few pass rushers more dynamic than Everson Griffen.
Griffen was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and has since turned into a four-time Pro Bowler.
Now he is set to maybe wear another jersey for the first time in his career, as Griffen has opted out of his contract with the Vikings.
Through 10 seasons in Minnesota, Griffen has 74.5 sacks, 176 quarterback hits, 86 tackles for a loss and 355 total tackles.
There have been few players in the league that are harder to block than Griffen and he now gets the chance to test free agency.
After voiding his lucrative $13.5 million salary for next season, Griffen is likely looking to sign a contract of similar value through free agency.
At 32 years old, Griffen could be looking for a three-year contract worth somewhere around $45 million.
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