“Some people are going to be really surprised when Drew Brees stands up in Canton to give his acceptance speech.”

I’ve made comments similar to this a few times in the past year.  Even when speaking to knowledgeable fans, it’s often met with skepticism.  After all, Drew Brees is a nice guy, but he’s no Peyton Manning.  One friend even commented that he’s basically Dan Fouts, and that Fouts wasn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame.  I countered this by showing that Brees is better than Fouts was … and that Fouts is indeed enshrined in Canton.

Brees is definitely a nice guy.  He’s always involved in charity work and never in trouble – despite being the king of the party town of New Orleans.  In an article in Sports Illustrated, a Saints teammate pondered the question of how much trouble Ben Roethlisberger could get himself into in the Big Easy.  I do think, though, that Brees’ good-guy reputation may be preventing his greatness on the field from getting the recognition he deserves.

First of all, let’s stop with the comparisons to Peyton Manning.  Manning will go down as the greatest quarterback of this generation (sorry, Brady, but you’re going to come up shorting in counting stats, such as passing yards and TDs).  By the end of the 2014 season, Manning (who will be 38 at the time) will be the all time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (assuming that Brett Favre stays retired).

The presence of Manning, though, shouldn’t detract from the greatness of Brees, any more than the presence of Babe Ruth should detract from the greatness of Lou Gehrig.  Brees (who is nearly three years younger than Manning) has 35,266 passing yards and 235 touchdowns to his credit.  Let’s extrapolate a bit, assuming that Brees plays five more seasons.  (Yes, yes, we should be very careful when predicting future performance).

Brees has thrown at least 33 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons … but he’ll be getting older, so let’s assume a bit of decline.  Brees has seven straight seasons of at least 24 touchdowns – so let’s put him down for 25 more TDs in each of the next five seasons.  That’s 125 touchdowns to add to his current total of 235 – bringing the extrapolated total to 360.  In his five years as leader of the high powered Saints offense, Brees has averaged 4583.6 passing yards per year.  Again, let’s trim this down a bit, assuming for a bit of decline.  We’ll assume a still powerful Saints offense, but a “mere” 4000 passing yards per season.  That would add 20,000 passing yards to his total of 35,266 – bringing his extrapolated career total to 55,266.

How do those numbers stack up?  360 touchdowns would likely place him 4th or 5th all time (depending on how Tom Brady does during the same span) and 55,266 passing yards would likely rank 4th all time (Brees is currently behind Kerry Collins and Donovan McNabb, but I would expect him to be ahead of them at the end of the five years).

Bear in mind that my numbers are based on his retirement at age 36.  If he decides to play until he is 40, then 70,000 yards and 500 touchdowns might come into play.

Being top five in passing yards and TD would certainly punch Brees’ ticket to Canton.  Only three quarterbacks with more than 275 touchdowns are not in the Hall of Fame.  Two of theme aren’t eligible yet (Favre and Manning) but are locks to be enshrined – and the third is Vinny Testaverde, who took 21 seasons to toss 275 TDs.  Is Brees a product of a pass-happy era in the NFL.  Sure.  But there’s a reason why everyone isn’t racking up 4500 passing yards per year.  Most coaches don’t trust their quarerback to throw the ball 650 times per year.

Still, Brees must have some young gunslingers coming up in his rear view mirror, right?  Not really.  If we look at players younger than Brees, the leaders in touchdowns is Eli Manning with 156 and passing yards is Carson Palmer with 22,694.  That’s 75 fewer touchdowns and 12,572 fewer passing yards than Brees.

No matter how you slice it, Brees is one of the elite QBs in the game today.


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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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