In the few hours between his workout and his cover shoot, Brees gets a call from his agent and learns the deal is done. He says it feels good, allowing a smile to creep over his face momentarily before it’s banished.
“Right when it happens there’s elation,” Brees says as the smile fades, “and then you start reflecting a little bit on what it’s taken to get to this point, and you start thinking about the responsibility that comes along with this. A lot of people view a contract like this as, ‘Hey, you’ve earned this.’ But in my mind, it is yet to be earned. I’ve always believed that to whom is given, much is required. I don’t shy away from the responsibility that comes with this.”
Surely he celebrated later that night, though. Right?
“To be perfectly frank, when I got home, I changed a poopie diaper, and I went downstairs and did a load of laundry,” he says a few days later.
In truth, there really is no time to celebrate. His contract is the lone bright spot of the year for his team, which stands decimated by scandal and sanctions. The coach who believed in Brees the most and treated him as a partner has been ripped away, putting more pressure on him than ever before. Few will buy any $100 million man as an underdog, but there’s no denying the deck is stacked hard against him and the Saints.
Still, the more the strikes against him pile up, the more you can see the shadows of the past, of how he continually rises to the occasion in the face of adversity—when scouts think he’s too short, when coaches think his shoulder is shot, when he’s beset by personal tragedy. There is no handicapping what Drew Brees can do. If history is any guide, this is when the magic happens. A kick in the teeth only adds fuel to the fire, and right now, he’s got enough to burn a clear path to a second Super Bowl ring—and whatever else he sees beyond.