NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees not only transformed a football team, but also a city.
Three days before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast, the Saints played the Baltimore Ravens in a preseason game on a Thursday night at the Superdome.
The Dome was one-fourth filled.
Enthusiasm for the Saints was waning.
Plenty of season tickets were available.
In 2006, with Brees at quarterback, the Superdome was sold out, and has remained so for 15 years.
Drew Brees retires with the most career passing yards, 80,358.
He leaves with the most career completions, 7,142.
And, Brees owns the NFL record for at least one touchdown pass in 54 consecutive regular season games.
Drew Brees’ effect on the New Orleans Saints is best viewed through the prism of team success.
In the six seasons before Brees, the Saints won 45 games.
In his first six seasons as the Saints starting quarterback, the Saints won 62 games.
In 2005, the Saints scored 235 points and had a negative point differential of 163.
In the 2009 Super Bowl winning season, the Saints scored 510 points and were plus 169 in point differential.
In the 39 seasons before Brees, the Saints had 5 double digit wins years.
In the 15 of Brees, the Saints won at least 10 games nine times.
In the first 39 years, the Saints won two division championships.
In Brees’ 15 seasons, the Saints won seven NFC South titles, including the last four.
In the first 39 years, the Saints had never won 13 games. In 15 seasons, with Brees at quarterback, the Saints won 13 games on four occasions.
The Saints had never played in an NFC championship game before Brees.
They reached the NFC championship in his year, and would reach it twice more, in 2009 and 2018.
In February of 2010, Brees was 32 of 39 against the Colts as the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.
In the previous 39 years, the Saints had nine permanent head coaches.
In the 15 years of Brees, the Saints have had only one.
Brees has pocketed tens of millions of dollars for his efforts, but he also helped make others multi-millionaires.
He helped make seventh round Marques Colston the most accomplished receivers in Saints history.
In 2010, the Saints drafted converted basketball player, University of Miami tight end Jimmy Graham.
One year later, Graham had 99 catches, 11 for touchdowns.
In 2005, Lance Moore made the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent.
Three years later, in New Orleans, he caught 79 passes, 10 for touchdowns.
Lance Moore made himself into an outstanding NFL player, but he also had an assist from a Hall of Fame quarterback.
Several years ago, Brees said this of head coach Sean Payton.
“He came here (in 2006), and he needed a quarterback, and he chose me.”Drew Brees
It was a decision that changed all of us.