/Don’t forget, Brees’ record-setting career was resurrected at Millsaps

Don’t forget, Brees’ record-setting career was resurrected at Millsaps

Brees is as accurate as any pass in the history and evolution of the sport. It seems like a good time to reflect on the place and time where Saint Drew’s career was revived. That time would be in 2006, and Millsaps College would be that location. Remember? It is hard to forget. It seems so far ago. It was more than 12 years ago, with over 5,000 Drew Brees completions and nearly 60,000 Brees walking yards. You will recall the uncertain circumstances. We didn’t know what to expect. Brees was signed by the Saints after suffering a shoulder injury that many believed would end his career. Brees was in a state of uncertainty as were the Saints. It was exactly one year since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf South, flooding New Orleans and ripping through Mississippi. The Saints finished 3-13 in 2005’s forgettable season. They played home games at Giants Stadium, Baton Rouge Tiger Stadium and the Alamodome. Both Aaron Brooks, the quarterback and Jim Haslett, as the coach, were thrown out, leaving room for Sean Payton, Brees and Brees. While the Superdome was being rebuilt in New Orleans, the Saints started their own resurrection at Millsaps. There, temperatures reached the high 90s and humidity was thick, making thunderstorms a real possibility. We didn’t know what we were in for. Deuce McAllister was close to the end of his stellar Saints run. Reggie Bush was a rookie. The offensive line of the Saints was a patchwork made up of many question marks. Defense was being constructed on the fly. Brees, at 6 feet tall and with a injured shoulder, was the most elusive of all. Remember? Remember? Brees was in New Orleans, but he seemed to be heading for South Florida rather than hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. The Dolphins team doctors raised red flags and Saban decided to take Daunte Cullpepper instead. Seems so crazy now, doesn’t it? Brees would have been No. 9 if Saban and the Dolphins had signed him. 9 doesn’t come to New Orleans, and Saban likely never visits Alabama. Saban signed Brees, but the Saints did. His first stop was Millsaps, where his first few practice sessions were at best shaky. Some of his first passes were not successful. Some missed the mark. Some lacked velocity. Brees stated that he was certain that he could play right now. Brees said, “But I’m building gradually, listen to me arm and listen to mine body and build from there.” Brees maintained that his shoulder was between 85 and 90 percent ready. What about the other 10 to 15%? Brees stated, “That’s why training camp is for.” He proved it. These fluttering passes turned into tight spirals that nearly always hit their mark. The Saints made a comeback after a disappointing 1-3 preseason. With Brees throwing darts, they won five of their six regular season games. They would ride on Brees’ shoulders, both the left and the right, all the way to Chicago for the NFC Championship. Twelve years later, Brees still throws the football with the same accuracy as ever. He is the best player in the sport’s history. We saw the beginning here in Jackson at Millsaps.