Welp, if one good thing came out of the Green Bay game, at least we were reminded that Drew Brees is still in fact a god. So we've got that going for us. High five!

On the other hand, we were also reminded that this defense is still a dumpster fire, the running game still can't be trusted, and the tweeked-out emo boy kicker damn sure still can't be trusted. Guh. But since I'm (very) late to the party this week, and last week's game has already been beaten to death, we'll just leave it at that and move on to this weekend's Drew Brees Appreciation Night. Because it might very well be our only opportunity this season to smell us some of that sweet, sweet greatness.

Last year when Drew broke Dan Marino's single-season passing record which had stood for 27 years, we here at moosedenied pondered the notion that Drew might very well be the least-celebrated all-time great player in NFL history.

Why is anyone's guess. It's not that he isn't pretty much universally liked, because he is, and for good reason. It's not that he's not respected, because he is. It's not that people don't acknowledge that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league right now, because they do. (Even if it usually seems like he's the "…oh yeah, and that guy too" throwaway lagniappe entry on the Brady/Rodgers/Manning List.) I'm not even sure it really has a whole lot to do with the fact that he plays for the Saints, actually. Bounty shit notwithstanding, gone are the days of the Saints being an NFL afterthought at best, and the butt of jokes at worst.

But as we talked about last December, while I wouldn't say Drew is "disrespected" at all, I don't think there's any doubt that he's woefully undercelebrated as the all-time great player he is. You almost never hear any unqualified praise for the guy or any of his numerous accomplishments. It always comes with a "Yeah, but…" attached.

Drew breaks Marino's record, and all you hear is about how it's "a different era" now, and the implication is perfectly clear that it's supposedly so much easier now than it was then, and therefore less impressive. (Because it's not like Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, Warren Moon and Jim Kelly were slinging the ball all over the damn stadium back then, right?) You were hard-pressed to find any account of it without that caveat being conspicuously asserted.

You heard all kinds of stuff about how two other quarterbacks threw for 5000+ yards last season too (Tom Brady, Matt Stafford) and how Brady also passed Marino. But you hardly ever heard anything about Drew being the only quarterback in league history to throw for 5000+ twice.

It's always something. Nobody has any problem acknowledging Drew as very, very good. One of the best of "the current crop" even. But you wouldn't need more than one hand to count the number of people who are willing to go as far as "great." Let alone "all-timer." Which is utterly absurd, because he clearly is. It's not even debatable. Yet, ridiculously, people still continue to insist on debating whether or not Drew Brees is a Hall Of Famer, right now, this very minute, if he never takes another snap. As if it's not already a complete no-brainer, for crying out loud.

And that's why, as usual, it's going to be up to us to ensure that the latest in Drew's long list of unprecedented accomplishments is properly celebrated and given the reverence it's due. Because if we don't, you can be damn sure nobody else is gonna.

Another year, yet another instance of Drew doing something nobody else in the NFL has ever done before, another opportunity for the rest of the world to assert that it's really not that big a deal. You could set your watch by it at this point.

Sunday night, and all of next week, you're gonna hear an awful lot about how "it's a different era." And the implication will be obvious. You're gonna hear a lot about how Tom Brady is currently at 36 and is "within striking distance" of breaking "Unitas's record" too (even after it's no longer "Unitas's record.")

What you're not gonna hear much of is how this isn't just any record. How, as recently as four years ago (oddly enough, not long before Drew started his streak) it was being touted as the second most "unbreakable" record in the books. (Incidentally, the linked video is worth the watch if for no other reason than to hear Rich Eisen say that he thinks the record could eventually be broken by Peyton Manning… or possibly Carson Palmer. Awesome.) That not only was it considered unlikely to ever be broken — ever – nobody had really even gotten close. In half a fuckin' century.

Leave it to Jason Cole (because, of course) to get the ball rolling on all that. Particularly amusing is his little stats table which shows Drew kicking Unitas's ass by every single statistical measure during their respective streaks, immediately followed by the assertion that what those stats actually mean is that Drew was "helped" by… um… uh… the fact that in today's game more is asked of the quarterback than in Unitas's day? Because as the game has evolved, the quarterback position has become far more important than ever before? That made it easier? Because it's a passing league now, and I guess defenses still haven't gotten that particular memo? By Cole's logic, apparently. Or something.

See, Cole (now, conveniently) figures that arguably the second most unbreakable record in NFL history was "bound to fall." Oh yeah, just a matter of time. If not now, surely within the next half-century or so. Yeah, I'm sure he'd assert that he's long held that opinion, even as everybody else in the world was saying it would never be broken. And it's not like Cole is full of shit or anything. 

More hilariously absurd yet is that Cole's not alone, that's pretty much the prevailing wisdom (now, anyway.) Because apparently, in football, for some reason the longer a record stands, the less impressive it is when someone breaks it. Or something. As long as that someone is Drew Brees, that is, and not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or Tony Romo or Tim Tebow.

And we'll be damn lucky if a single person bothers to give a passing mention to the notion that, if it's supposed to be so damn much easier and therefore the accomplishment far less impressive now, why the hell haven't Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and Brett Favre and Troy Aikman and Dan Marino and John Elway and Jim Kelly and Dan Fouts and Joe Montana been able to do it? Why haven't all of them done it? I mean, they're all clearly better than Drew, right?

But the problem with NFL records (and hey, just for shits and giggles, here's a list of SIXTY-TWO OF 'EM that Drew currently holds) is that, when taken individually, each one of them can be shrugged off as little more than trivia, if one were so inclined. And that's how they come, one by one. So by the time the next one comes, the last one has already long since been filed away in the archives and largely forgotten. And sometimes a record can be so specific, so contrived, it strikes as being kinda silly. "Most consecutive Thursday night home games with 17 or more completions and a touchdown" or whatever.

So it's easy to diminish them, to downplay them, to act like any given record isn't really all that big a deal. It's easy to shrug it off and say "Hey, good for him. Doesn't mean he's great though. Just means he broke some record or another. Big fuckin' deal. If he hadn't, somebody else would have. Hell, I'm sure Jake Plummer and Jeff George and Frank Reich hold an NFL record or two their own selves." Again, if one were so inclined.

In Drew's case, it sure seems like a hell of a lot of people are so inclined.

Which is why, right up until the day Drew inevitably puts on that gold blazer and Baylen steps to the podium to introduce him, it's all on us to see to it that Drew's Greatness (not Very-Goodness) is properly celebrated and placed into its proper context, which is that of an All-Time Great. Not "Maybe, eventually, on the third or fourth ballot, assuming he gets another ring, or something." But as a no-brainer first-ballot Hall Of Famer, right now, this very minute. As one of the very greatest quarterbacks to ever set foot on an NFL football field.

At 32 years old, in his 13th NFL season, Drew is 10th all-time in passing yards. By Halloween, he'll have passed Dan Fouts (15 years) for 9th.

By the end of next season, or early in 2014, he'll have passed Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon. At which point he'll be 5th, behind only Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and John Elway. Ever hear anybody debating whether or not any of those guys are first-ballot HOFers? No, the only debate you'll hear is which of those guys is the single Greatest Of All Time.

And don't even give me the "RINGS!!!!" argument. Because Manning and Favre only have one each, and Marino doesn't have any.

By the end of 2014, he'll have passed Elway for 4th. Of All Time. With a full season to spare.

You know how people are fond of saying that since Drew has been in New Orleans, he's been playing the QB position as well as anybody in the league? That's nice and all, it's a safe way to show Drew a little vague respect for his very-goodness without going so far as to put him up there as an All-Timer.

So, as an exercise, I decided to compare Drew's six (full) seasons in New Orleans to the best six-year stretch in the careers of some other notable All-Time Greats. Now, let me be perfectly clear here, what follows is not intended to assert that Drew is THE GREATEST QB OF ALL TIME. I don't believe that he is, and this little exercise would be ill-suited for establishing that even if it were my intention. 

The intention is to establish that Drew hasn't just been playing "as well as anybody over the last six years" but that he has, more or less, been playing as well as any quarterback in NFL history ever has over any six-year period. Ever. Regardless of "era."

  Years Record Comp % TD % INT% Yds/Att Yds/Comp Passer Rtg
Drew Brees 2006-2011 62-33 67.8 5.5 2.5 7.7 11.4 98.5
Joe Montana 1985-1990 58-17 63.5 5.4 2.8 7.7 12.2 94.0
John Elway 1993-1998 59-30 60.0 4.9 2.4 7.3 12.2 88.9
Dan Marino 1983-1988 54-31 60.2 6.3 3.3 7.7 12.8 91.5
Peyton Manning 2004-2009 77-19 66.8 6.3 2.3 8.0 12.0 102.9
Tom Brady* 2005-2011 76-21 65.2 6.1 1.9 7.9 12.1 101.8
Johnny Unitas 1962-1967 55-22-3 56.7 5.9 4.3 8.3 14.6 85.5
Brett Favre 1993-1998 66-30 61.4 5.9 3.1 7.2 11.7 90.0
Jim Kelly 1987-1992 60-26 60.5 5.5 3.6 7.6 12.6 87.6
Dan Fouts 1978-1983 53-28 60.6 5.3 4.0 8.1 13.3 87.3
Steve Young 1992-1997 66-20 67.9 5.8 2.3 8.2 12.1 102.8
Warren Moon 1990-1995 52-34 61.6 4.4 3.0 7.2 11.7 85.6
Troy Aikman 1991-1996 63-24 65.1 3.6 2.5 7.4 11.4 88.9

(*I went ahead and gave Brady a mulligan on 2008 when he got injured in week 1, because I'm magnanimous like that, even though a quarterback's ability to actually take the field does matter. A lot.)

Now before you start nitpicking, yes, with a lot of these guys it's difficult to decide on a "best six-year stretch of his career." I can show my work if you like, I've got the full spreadsheet. And I admit that with Manning, I had to go all "99-04 or 00-05 or 01-06 or 02-07 or 03-08 or 04-09 or 05-10?" with it. But the table would have been excruciatingly huge and unreadable if I hadn't narrowed it down to one single six-year stretch. So I had to decide on something to be the deciding factor, and I went with highest passer rating. If that doesn't work for ya, feel free to mock my methodology on the message board of your choosing.

And yes, stats aren't the end-all-be-all, and a six-year stretch does not a career make, and all that good shit. I get it. This is not meant to be comprehensive (you wouldn't read it if it were, TL;DR and all that shit.) And again, I cannot stress this enough, the intention here is not to assert that Drew is the Greatest NFL Quarterback Of All Time. Subjectively, for my money, Peyton Manning probably is, and Joe Montana is probably #2.

All I'm trying to establish here is that the go-to platitude about Drew, that he's "been right up there with any quarterback currently in the NFL over the last six years" is kinda like saying Marilyn Monroe was kinda cute. It's a backhanded compliment, and it totally sells him short. It doesn't put his accomplishments in the proper context. It conveniently dances around the fact that since he's been in New Orleans, Drew Brees has performed as well as any quarterback ever has over an equal stretch of time. Ever.

Better than Montana. Better than Marino. Better than Elway. Better than Favre. Better than Kelly, Fouts, Moon and Aikman.

Remember all this Sunday night while they're telling you that Drew is pretty doggone good, but that he's no Unitas. Remember it next week when Smirkin' Skip and Screamin' A are smirkin' and screamin' about "Hey, good for that guy, but the Saints are still 0-5/1-4." Remember it when Jason Cole tells you that it's not really all that great an accomplishment anyway, and Pete Prisco tells you how classless it was for Drew to throw for the record-breaking TD when he could just as easily have handed the ball off to Jed Collins.

And remember it all when some douchebag or other is telling you how it's all Drew's fault that the Saints have fallen flat on their asses this year, because he committed the cardinal sin of making lots and lots of money.

Just take in a big, long, deep whiff of that Greatness. And enjoy it for what it is. Not just Greatness, but All-Time Greatness. Because that's what it is, regardless of whether or not anybody else is willing to acknowledge it.

SIXTY-TWO NFL RECORDS, bitches. And counting.

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