In 2011, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had one of the best seasons anyone at his position has ever enjoyed. He was even better when it really counted, down the stretch. From November through January, his stats were absolutely transcendent — 226 completions in 314 attempts (71.7 completion percentage) for 2,730 yards (8.69 yards per attempt), 27 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. That said, a competitor like Brees finds it hard to call any season that doesn't end in a Super Bowl championship a complete success, and the Saints fell short against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
When we caught up with Brees in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week, the NFL's best quarterback over the second half of the 2011 season was eager to reflect on that time for him and his team.
"I felt that I was playing some of my best football as the season went on," Brees said. "That's always my goal — I want to be playing my best at the end of the season. Each year, I want to get a little bit better. Sometimes, the statistics don't always show that, and sometimes, they do. I felt that we had a great year as a team, and we all made a lot of progress. I felt that we were in a great position in the end to make a run at it — the chance at a championship. Unfortunately, we came up a little short. Still, I think we have to recognize that we did have a special season, and we do have a great team. I'm really looking forward to the future in New Orleans."
Over the last five seasons, Brees has teamed with head coach Sean Payton to construct one of the most formidable passing offenses in NFL history. I asked Brees about that relationship between coach and quarterback, and the dividends it's paid.
"He's been awesome. He had so much confidence in me; he brought me to New Orleans. I really owe so much to Sean Payton."
Brees was also in Indy to talk about his work with the NFL Play 60 program and Xbox Kinect — as a father of two, Brees is very concerned about the health and fitness of our next generation. Like Reggie Wayne a couple of days ago when he talked with him, Brees spent some time playing with a group of kids on the interactive game.
"There's a disturbing statistic that one in three kids in America is considered obese or overweight," Brees said. "That's obviously been a huge issue, especially with juvenile diabetes running rampant. I think that programs like NFL Play 60, and now with Kinect for Xbox Play 60, are really encouraging kids to get out and exercise 60 minutes a day. There are quite a lot of ways you can do that — playing sports and that kind of thing — but if you're inside, get up off the couch and get up on Kinect. You can play a ton of interactive games where you're moving your feet and your body — you're burning calories. It's really about helping to teach kids to live a healthier lifestyle."