The past off-season, however, saw Brees’ career roller coaster bottom out again. The league dropped the hammer on the Saints in the aftermath of the pay-to-injure “bounty” scandal with a series of heavy penalties, including full-year suspensions of defensive captain Jonathan Vilma and head coach Sean Payton, the man responsible for bringing Brees to New Orleans. A vocal union leader during the 2011 lockout, Brees isn’t shy in chastising the league for a lack of evidence, and again reiterated his lack of knowledge of any such bounty program. To top it off, he and the team couldn’t come to a long-term contract agreement even though he had just shattered Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record. Instead, the Saints slapped him with the franchise tag—a one-year deal based on the top five salaries for his position. Brees declined to sign and technically sat in a holdout until today, Friday the 13th of July, which will turn out to be his lucky day.
For now, though, none of that matters. It’s time to train.
After the warmup, Durkin, who blends in like another player jumping in and out of the drills, turns and sprints out the back door of the gym. The guys follow him outside to a brick wall for a medicine ball circuit. Next, they sprint up an outdoor stairwell to a deck fitted with resistance bands for some external rotations to work on shoulder joint integrity. Right then, the Saints captain decides that his backup’s form leaves something to be desired.
“Chase, you gotta come higher with that,” Brees says, demonstrating just how high one should go.
Daniel glares back, incredulous. “You know what? You worry about you, and I’ll worry about me, OK?”
Brees doesn’t respond just then, but can’t let it go, and gets Daniel’s attention moments later when the two are jogging back down the stairs.
“You know what I meant, right? Up here.” Brees shows him again.
“Are you seriously f—ing telling me what to do right now?”
Brees fixes him with an icy stare and no hint of a smile. “I’m just trying to make you better, man.”