Anyone who reads my blog knows sports are a part of my life, they always have been. Ever since I was six the Packers have been a part of my football life, especially the years before Bart Starr retired and the years after Brett Favre became a Packer.
Over time Mary Kay “broke me” of including a Brett Favre reference in every article I wrote. This week I found a way to include his name – and it has nothing to do with the fact that he turned 49 last week.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, set a new NFL record for career passing yards last week. Earlier this year he broke Favre’s record of 6,300 completions. The reference to Favre ends, much to my wife’s pleasure!
MK is a graduate of San Diego State and the San Diego Chargers drafted Brees in the second round of the NFL draft. (Yes, uh, just a few years after MK graduated.)
He wasn’t a first round draft pick because he was small, he wasn’t quite 6’ tall and had a mediocre arm. Last Monday I watched one of the analysts who was in the same class as Brees, he mentioned “this kid from Purdue” just didn’t look that good.
After several good years as a Charger Brees got hurt in January 2006 and it wasn’t good. It appeared to potentially be career-ending. He saw a renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andrews, who discovered that Brees had a torn labrum and would need 11 surgical anchors. He would also need to repair his rotator cuff. Fortunately, this procedure was done arthroscopically.
Regardless, it would be a grueling rehabilitation. The Doctor said, “Lord, I was just hoping to give him a functional shoulder, an average athlete would not recover from this injury.” Dr. Andrews then handed Brees off to a physical therapist who said, “I had never seen an injury this severe in any elite-level throwing athlete. We are in uncharted waters.”
In May 2006 he was traded to the New Orleans Saints.
It was August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. On September 25, 2006, the New Orleans Saints started playing again at the Superdome in New Orleans. New Orleans and Brees were healing together.
He became the first quarterback to ever throw for 72,000 yards.
Now let’s fast forward to last week.
Brees is now 39, which is old for a quarterback considering these quarterbacks who retired:
- Dan Marino, who was 38 when he retired,
- John Elway, was also 38,
- Roger Staubach was 39,
- Troy Aikman was 34,
- Joe Montana was 38,
- Kenny Stabler was 38, and
- Peyton Manning was 40.
This puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? He doesn’t see himself close to retirement. Maybe you are asking, “What does all of this have to do with leadership?”
When he broke the all-time passing yardage record, officials stopped the game, gave him the ball, and showed him speaking with his kids. When asked what he said to his kids at that moment, he said, “I probably told my kids what I tell them each night, you can accomplish anything in life that you want to work for. Nothing is given, everything is earned. God has equipped us for great works. I tell them that every night.” He continued, “I love playing the game, and I play because I love this game. I love to compete and I love being a part of this organization.”
Can any of us say this? “I love to compete. I love being a part of my organization. I love playing the game.” If you can say this, congrats, because you are undoubtedly, a great leader!