Drew Brees Gets Heartfelt Salute From Teammates, Opponents on His Retirement

Drew Brees went to New Orleans in 2006, just when the city needed him most. The New Orleans Saints had a long history of losing, but the city hit a low point in 2005 after a levee broke and flooded the city after Hurricane Katrina.

The team played home games in other cities during 2005, and former owner Tom Benson baited his team to other places—like San Antonio—for perhaps a permanent location.

The Saints hired Sean Payton as their head coach for the 2006 season, and Payton wanted a leader on his team. They signed Drew Brees to be their quarterback.

Brees spent 15 seasons as their leader, helping them to their first NFC Championship game that season, and a Super Bowl title following the 2009 season. And, the city remains in New Orleans to this day.

Brees shot up the career passing charts into stratospheres hardly seen or ever once thought of. He led the Saints to a first-place divisional finish in 2020 and an unprecedented perfect record in the NFC South.

Drew Brees
Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints acknowledges the crowd after being defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 17, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After the Saints lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round last January, Brees trotted around the field and waved at fans in the stands. It was a way to say thank you to the loyal Saints fans. He later returned to the field with his family to soak up more time on the field with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

Brees hinted at retirement after the 2020 season, but there had been no further word. On Sunday, it became official.

Drew Brees retires from the NFL as one of the most prolific signal callers of all time. On Sunday, he was thanked for his time in the league. He was thanked by former teammates and former opponents. He was thanked by fans and politicians. He was thanked by the LSU Tigers, and he was thanked, of course, by the New Orleans Saints.

Among the first who congratulated Brees and thanked him was Brady, who went on to win his seventh Super Bowl this year.

"Congrats my friend on an incredible career. Thank you for the inspiration and dedication on and off the field! Look forward to seeing what's next," Brady tweeted.

The Saints probably said it best when they tweeted this heartfelt message Sunday evening:

"You came to us at our lowest point. You led us to our highest. You represented our state, city, and team with incredible professionalism, class, and toughness. We are forever grateful for the immeasurable impact you and your family had on this city."

You came to us at our lowest point.

You led us to our highest.

You represented our state, city, and team with incredible professionalism, class, and toughness.

We are forever grateful for the immeasurable impact you and your family had on this city. #ThankYouDrew pic.twitter.com/HljWp4NG2K

— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 14, 2021

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana retweeted it while saying, "One word: legend ... Thank you, Drew."

Here are some of the things said and tweeted about Brees, who will go down as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Wow. DrewBrezzzyyy Man Much Respect And Love. Thank You For Everything You Brought To The Game And Most Of All To The Great State Of Louisiana!!! ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾 @drewbrees #LegendForever

— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) March 14, 2021

@drewbrees!!! LEGENDARY‼️ love ya dawg much respect 🐐‼️

— Mark Ingram II (@markingram21) March 14, 2021

Congrats, @drewbrees, on one hell of a career. It was always a pleasure to watch you compete as a fan and not a pleasure competing against you as a player. Lol, Enjoy the next chapter of life because I’m sure it will be as complete and enjoyable as the last!!

— Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) March 14, 2021

From 2009 when I signed with the Saints as a 22 yr old boy until a 34 year old man today, you’ve taught me so much & it was an honor being your teammate for 5 years. You and I were always competing! Words can’t even being to describe how much the @nfl is going to miss @drewbrees. pic.twitter.com/m2Zd4RHooU

— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) March 14, 2021

Drew Brees retires after 20 seasons in the NFL.

He is the league's all-time leader in passing yards, completions and completion percentage. pic.twitter.com/eMvNy0QA6V

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 14, 2021

Sean Payton’s statement on Drew Brees’ retirement. pic.twitter.com/JxcP4DPbKl

— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) March 14, 2021

In 1996, Drew Brees led Austin Westlake HS to its first-ever state football championship.

In 2000, he led Purdue to its first Rose Bowl since 1966.

And in 2009, he led the Saints to its one and only Super Bowl title.

Notice a pattern here?

— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) March 14, 2021