Almost a whole entire 20 miles. 19.22 of them, as a matter of fact. That’s the literal distance measured out in total passing yardage (33,825 yards) in every single game ever played at the 45-year old indoor stadium known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the home venue of the New Orleans Saints, by starting QB Drew Brees.
The upcoming 2020 NFL Season will be the 15th year playing at the iconic building, for the 41-year old Saints living legend. And if this year should end up being his last season there wearing the Black and Gold — then it will will be the final chapter written in the legacy of the franchise’s greatest player of all-time — at the place that will forever be known as “the house that Drew Brees built.”
Unfortunately for Saints fans however, because of the uncertainty surrounding both the team and the League given the current status of the on-going nation-wide coronavirus / COVID-19 health crisis, there’s a better-than-average chance that the Who Dat Nation members living in New Orleans and the surrounding region who already have purchased tickets, might not actually get to see Brees add to his impressive totals.
Saints fans / season ticket holders were expected to have access to the Superdome initially this year with two scheduled Preseason games at the Superdome in late August and early September (Saturday, August 29th vs. the Houston Texans and then 5 days later on the Thursday prior to Labor Day Weekend September 3rd vs. the Miami Dolphins), before opening their 2020 Regular Season schedule against the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, September 13th.
However as the NFL continues to grapple with how to guarantee the safety of each player’s health but yet still somehow find a way to allow fans to attend the games; the likelihood that Who Dats will actually get to be there in person in downtown NOLA so that they can cheer on their Black and Gold heroes, remains a huge question mark.
Earlier the NFL announced that the 1st Preseason game originally scheduled to take place between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the annual NFL Hall of Fame exhibition contest in Canton, Ohio, has been cancelled outright.
Then later in the day, the League announced plans to block off the first six to eight rows of every lower bowl section at ALL 32 NFL stadiums (which inside of the Superdome is known as the “Plaza Level”) — and including any field-level suites — in order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The actual best-case scenario at this point seems to be allowing fans to attend although possibly on a “scaled back” or limited-basis, perhaps at 25% percent capacity or one-quarter of the way filled with people, which would be approximately between 18,000 to 20,000 fans.
And those same 25% would all be expected to adhere to any predetermined safety standards and established protocols such as the wearing of masks at all-times and remaining spaced out a distance of 6 feet apart from one another.
— NolaHatPlug.com ⚜️♥️ (@NolaHatPlug) May 13, 2020
And as it’s been mentioned in previous articles many times in recent weeks, there’s also a chance that the Saints could end up playing ALL of their scheduled home games this season in an EMPTY Superdome (with only the teams, referees and League officials, TV and Media, and the essential stadium personnel, allowed inside the building itself).
Yet whether it’s empty or full — visiting teams will still have to go into New Orleans at “the house that Drew Brees built” — and figure out a way somehow to come away with a win over one of the League’s very best teams over the last few seasons. And the now 20th year veteran Brees will be there waiting for them.
No matter how many folks are actually able to be there to watch it happen live, the future Hall-of-Famer will be looking to add this season to his already phenomenal numbers at the Superdome which he’s already put up over the years, which includes 77 wins and 39 losses, and a (6-2) record in the NFL Playoffs.
Brees has a (171-119) overall win-loss record for his entire career total, which still leaves him a grand total of 78 wins behind former New England Patriots and now brand new Buccaneers QB (and 6-time Super Bowl champion) Tom Brady; who has an all-time win-loss record of (249-75).
Not all that surprisingly in 14 seasons as the franchise’s starting QB (he spent the first 5 seasons of his career in San Diego with the now-L.A. Chargers), Brees has gotten nearly one-third of those total victories at the venerable old indoor stadium that once upon a time was famously “left for dead” following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina nearly 15 years ago.
Make no mistake about this much: some of his best winning performances (and most memorable ones for Who Dats fans) have taken place at the Superdome, without any doubt.
DREW BREES CAREER STATS AT THE SUPERDOME (2006-2019)
GAMES PLAYED / STARTED: 116 (108 Regular Season, 8 Post-Season)
WIN-LOSS RECORD: 77-39 (NFL Playoffs 6-2)
PASS COMPLETIONS: 2,890
PASS ATTEMPTS: 4,118
PASSING YARDAGE: 33,825 (or nearly 20 MILES)
TOUCHDOWNS / INTERCEPTIONS: 269 TD’s, 87 INT’s
PASSER RATING: 104.9
COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 70.1 %
Some of Brees’ most unforgettable victories among Saints fans have come at the Dome, including the beat-down of the previously-mentioned Tom Brady and the Patriots, during the Saints Super Bowl season back in 2009. Brees might have played his most efficient game ever as a professional, as the Saints EVISCERATED New England by a score of 38-17 on ESPN Monday Night Football behind Brees’ 5 TD passes and a PERFECT (158.3) QB rating that night.
On this day…
November 30th, 2009: Drew Brees & the #Saints opened up a can of whoop a$% on the New England Patriots in front of a sold out crowd on the MNF stage, winning 38-17.
— Erica Michelle 🏁 (@EricaSpeaksss) November 30, 2019
Several years later, there was the legendary “shoot-out” with NOLA native and recently-retired former New York Giants QB Eli Manning during the 2015 Season. The two QB’s shattered several long-standing passing records (including a jaw-dropping 13 TD passes combined), as the Black and Gold eventually hung on and emerged victorious by a score of 52-49.
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) May 28, 2020
And then who can forget the game that he won just two seasons ago, when the Black and Gold defeated the Washington Redskins (another unforgettable victory on Monday Night Football); in a contest where he needed to get 35 more yards to break the all-time NFL passing yardage record set by retired NFL QB legend (and also NOLA native) Peyton Manning, at 71,940 yards.
In the distinctive style that only he can do, Brees threw a perfect strike to WR Tre’Quan Smith down the right sideline for a 62-yard touchdown and the record-breaker.
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2018
Those memorable notches in the win column are exactly the reason why Brees as of right now, stands a WHOPPING 50 more wins all-time — over the number of wins in the Superdome all-time by the very next former Saints starting QB — former late 1980’s / early 1990’s Saints QB (and now WWL New Orleans 870 A.M. Radio host) Bobby Hebert.
SAINTS TOP 5 CAREER STARTING QB WINS AT THE SUPERDOME (1975 to 2019)
Drew Brees 77 (6 in the NFL Playoffs)
Bobby Hebert 27 (winless (0-3) in the NFL Playoffs)
Aaron Brooks 16 (1 in the NFL Playoffs)
Archie Manning 11
Jim Everett 9
Now as we turn our attention back towards this upcoming season, the Saints’ long-time “franchise QB” faces what might be one of the biggest challenges of his entire two decades in the NFL, as he attempts to win a 2nd Super Bowl title / World Championship; while simultaneously trying to successfully juggle the recent off-the-field events that have made Brees the “hot-topic” subject of sports-talk programs nation-wide.
That was because Brees unwittingly found himself caught up in the entire situation of current social unrest in the country from coast-to-coast, thanks to the unprompted question asked of him by Yahoo!Finance editor-at-large Daniel Roberts.
However, while Brees has publicly apologized and is attempting to put the entire situation behind him so that he and the team can began focusing on and preparing for the upcoming 2020 NFL Season, the “controversy” that has since followed is showing no signs of slowing down.
And it’s for that reason that there are many observers who are still fully convinced that the entire situation will eventually remain an “off-the-field” issue, no matter how much that he and the team try to avoid it and put it behind them; and that it will remain and linger over both him personally and the Saints franchise for the rest of the calendar year.
There unfortunately are a large portion of Who Dat fans out there right now that feel that Brees capitulated or “gave into the pressure” of the current social reform efforts that have been passionately supported by his Black teammates, which have since led to what can only be described as a growing cultural and social revolution fostered by the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Regardless of whether you as a Saints fan personally believe that he “caved to the pressure” or not, he DIDN’T DESERVE to be rudely attacked verbally throughout Social Media by those fans who clearly are putting their own personal and political beliefs, over what had been their previous loyalty to the man who very obviously many years from now, will long be remembered as the GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL-TIME in Saints franchise history.
For the lack of a better term: there are many Saints fans / Who Dats out there, that seriously need to take a “chill pill”.
If those angry and bitter Saints fans REALLY love this football team, then they honestly need to lay off of Brees and just let him do what he does best: which is giving the Black and Gold one of the NFL’s very best teams for the past decade and a half, and certainly even perhaps one of the League’s GREATEST players of all-time, period.
While those angry fans have been busy with attacking Brees for his willingness to become a better and more understanding person, as he acknowledges the societal issues which could stand to benefit from his voice on the critically important direction of our nation’s future, Drew himself has been staying busy as well.
— Nader Mirfiq (@Nader723) June 24, 2020
Not just busy mind you, but downright preoccupied within the past few days of trying to make sure that the team is ready for the upcoming season and up to the task of challenging for a Super Bowl title for the Black and Gold.
That much in and of itself, just goes to show how great of a player that Brees has been throughout his tenure here in NOLA, and his never-wavering COMMITMENT to both the Saints franchise and its adoring fan-base.
And that commitment has never been more evident, than in the past 14 years worth of great and unforgettable moments that only a small portion of Who Dats from across the country, have had the opportunity to come down to the heart of NOLA and personally witness him having at one of the city’s most storied landmarks.
Let’s face it: whenever you see that building in person or at home while watching it on TV, the first thing that you think of is the New Orleans Saints, and their living legend of a quarterback who has single-handedly made the franchise one of the most popular in all of the professional sports world.
And that popularity will never end, neither for the team which has tremendously benefited from his presence — or the old-but-still-iconic building where the majority of their and his combined success — has taken place for the past 15 years.
Not even the coronavirus, can stop that from happening.
Empty or full — the Superdome will always be “the house that Drew Brees built”….
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius