One thing that’s become apparent since the New Orleans Saints lost in controversial fashion to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game and were denied the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl several months ago, is that the team and their passionate “Who Dat Nation” fan-base aren’t going to get very much sympathy as the next NFL season rapidly approaches.
Throughout most of the off-season, a wide variety of alleged and so-called NFL “experts” within the national sports media that exclusively cover the League have seemingly attempted to discredit, or “throw shade” on the Saints organization.
The saints could go 16-0 and win the super bowl and the media and NFL idiots would still talk how the other teams were better.
It's us against Y'ALL
— Gannon DeShong (@GMD1119) June 26, 2019
And at least from the outside looking in, it mainly appears to be in direct response to what they see as a franchise and fan-base in New Orleans that isn’t able to accept defeat gracefully — thus earning the not-so-polite label of being “whiners” or “crybabies.”
However, yesterday morning on the NFL Network’s daily “Good Morning Football” program, the latest effort to “throw shade” was directed specifically towards Saints veteran QB and soon-to-be future NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The show’s hosts, in one of their scripted questions for the program, asked if there was any other starting QB that could become the new “king” and dethrone Brees as the NFC South Division’s top-rated signal-caller.
Which new QB could dethrone Drew Brees as the king of the AFC South?
"The only person that can dethrone Drew is Drew."
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) June 26, 2019
That the question was even asked at all to begin with, wasn’t really all that egregious – it simply seemed to be a perceived opportunity for the panelists to find ways to discredit or diminish Brees’ notable accomplishments that have seen the Black and Gold win the past two NFC South Division Championships as the team seeks a record-tying 3rd straight division title (or “threepeat”) in the upcoming 2019 Season.
While panelist/co-host and former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson was mostly complimentary of Brees, fellow co-host Peter Schrager questioned if Brees was showing signs of physical decline towards the end of last season, which was fair.
But it was guest panelist and former NFL cornerback D’Angelo Hall who laughingly suggested that 5th-year Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston — who is easily the NFC South Division’s worst QB of the four starters — was the player that he believed could become the next top QB within the division.
Now I’m not going to waste a whole lot of time of listing the stats/numbers and overall accomplishments of Brees and how he compares to the NFC South Division’s three other starters (Winston, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, and Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan), because we already know just how lopsided they are tilted in Brees’ favor.
That’s not the point of this morning’s opinion article.
The reality is that there’s been a constant barrage of criticism levied at the Saints this off-season from a countless number of media pundits, whether it’s being done intentionally or is happening quite innocently. There are some who even appear to be openly “rooting” for the Saints to fail and have a losing record in the upcoming NFL season ahead.
And as far as anyone can tell: other than fans of the Saints’ usual rivals, most of that criticism stems from the reaction and fall-out to that infamous NFC Championship Game from five months ago; especially since the League’s Competition Committee was persuaded heavily by Saints head coach Sean Payton and voted unanimously in March to allow coaches to challenge referee’s calls (or no-call in the Saints’ particular case against the Rams) regarding pass interference.
Said another source: “Sean (Payton) was for it. Championed it.” https://t.co/oMxLmpai16
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2019
There are those who feel that Payton “cried too much” over the loss to the Rams, and they believe that he and the Saints organization were overzealous in their efforts after the controversial outcome to right an obvious wrong and to seek some degree of restitution for the manner in which the League handled the entire situation.
Whether you agree with that assessment or not isn’t all that important; what’s definitely notable is that by doing so, the various pundits are only serving to increase the large “chip on their shoulder” that the Saints organization will be playing with this season.
You can believe this much: whether you’re a fan of the Saints or not, New Orleans is LASER-FOCUSED on winning the Super Bowl in 2019, and anything less than that goal will be perceived as a failure.
Anyone claiming to believe that Brees is “washed up” or “done”, is being completely disingenuous. Is Brees nearing the end of his brilliant career? Probably so, and without question, there will certainly be another QB someday that will become the new “king” of the NFC South.
But it’s not happening yet.
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) June 18, 2019
Matt Ryan of the Falcons is a good and perhaps even a borderline great QB, but his fatal flaw is coming up short in big-time game situations, particularly in the Dirty Bird’s epic loss and blown 25-point lead in Super Bowl LI (51) a few years ago.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton has also been to the Super Bowl (three years ago), but it’s his lack of consistency from year-to-year and often times from game-to-game that has held him back from achieving greatness in spite of his obvious physical gifts.
And while brand new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will likely be the mentor that Jameis Winston needs to finally boost his struggling NFL career up to this point, it will remain a work in progress, for the time being.
Yes, Drew Brees is now 40 years old, and he probably only has few short seasons remaining at best. But until that happens, he’s still THE VERY BEST quarterback in the NFC South, hands down.
And it’s not even close.
Any attempt — and especially like the very weak one made by the NFL Network yesterday — to “throw shade” on one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks that will ever play the sport of Pro Football in Brees, falls embarrassingly flat on its own face.
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius