This column seeks to profile important events in the history of sports.
As football has spent its past couple decades evolving the sport into a highly offensive league, it is no surprise that records in the quarterback sector have exploded recently — the Rams vs. Chiefs regular season bout in 2019 should be evidence enough. In the age of offense, passing stats have become the lens in which sports talk, sports journalism and Cowherd-esque hacks define their quarterback (QB) greats.
For the stat cultists, Drew Brees has been making his mark on football history since Sep. 23, 2018, when a game against the Falcons gave Brees enough completions to top the list, passing 6,300. Coming into the contest, achieving this record was basically a certainty. Brett Favre’s 6,300 completion record stood alone at the top, and with 6,992 under his belt, the weak Falcons secondary would have needed a patron saint-tier miracle to keep Drew Brees under 13 completions all game, and they certainly did not get it, completing 27 more than he needed at a final rate of 39 out of 49 passes received. A 14 yard completion to wideout Michael Thomas in the second quarter sealed the record with ease. To put that in perspective, as a Bears fan, I am lucky to see 14 completions all game.
In typical Drew Brees fashion, there was not a hint of a celebration, and in its place, cold efficiency that won a high-scoring and close game. Brees proved throughout all 60 minutes why his completed passes are higher than all his QB contemporaries, despite his career overlapping with football greats like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers; playing with steady gains and utter precision, 80 percent of all passes thrown that game made it into the hands of his weapons, despite his throwing nearly 50 of them.
Further still, three games into the season was not long enough to work down his ridiculous completion percentage that year, which also rested comfortably at 80 percent. Through three full games, that is a tough average to hold onto, even in Madden with a 99 overall QB. Finishing the year, his total completion percentage did drop to 74.4 percent, a new record in its own right. In second and third place for percentage? Brees at 74.3 percent in 2019 and Brees at 72 percent in 2017.
The longevity and steady hand that Brees is so famous for holds to this day. His resume contains 6,940 completed passes, and his closest adversary in that regard is Tom Brady at 6,423. While Brady is still active and starting in the National Football League (NFL), he is also 42 years old and clearly on the decline. It is safe to assume that a young QB is going to have to knock Brees off that pedestal.
Speaking of Brees and records, there is even more proof to stat worshippers why he might be the greatest of all time QB. In addition to most completion attempts all-time and highest completion percentage in a year, Brees set the all-time passing yards record just two weeks after his game against the Falcons. In a fashion that seemed like a movie’s climax, Brees needed 201 yards against the Washington Redskins (as they were known at the time) and achieved almost a third of them in a 62 yard bullet to Tre’Quan Smith.
Even the referees succumbed to the absolute hysteria of the fans in the Superdome and had both teams take a small break to celebrate Brees’s victory — a celebration that he wanted over as quickly as possible, might I add. It speaks to just how efficient Brees is as a QB. Favre’s famous downfield bomb was the terror of the National Football Conference North for as long as he was around, and he used it often, — plenty of times to his own downfall. For Brees, a QB who relies on that consistent driving ability, to surpass such a player is a testament to how truly consistent he is.
All-time touchdowns in the NFL is another category he’s cemented himself in the top spot in, beating Peyton Manning’s record of 539 in 2019 against the Indianapolis Colts. Since then, he has amassed 14 more and is now at 553, where Brady sits 13 touchdowns behind.
The list of records does not end there, however. He is tied with eight other players for most touchdowns in a game at seven and is on top in terms of consistency even further, as he has the most games in a row with a touchdown at 54 and most passes completed in a season. Football fans should have seen his record-setting trends coming from college, however, as 34 from the National College Athletic Association, Big Ten Conference and Purdue records are also under his belt. That “Cool Brees” childhood nickname makes a little bit more sense.