There should not be enough money on Wall Street to make Brees risk his deification status with Who Dat Nation, which is he doing by holding out. At a time when the franchise needs him more than ever, Brees' presence would send a message that a steady hand is in charge of the team in the absence of head coach Sean Payton. With Brees behind center, the evening news clips of the on-field workouts would elicit a collective sigh of relief and optimism throughout Who Dat Nation. Instead, Brees' actions are starting to suggest those of the lesser-loved professional athletes whom we love to slap with the dreaded "S" word. Is Drew Brees selfish?
He finally went public last week, saying wants to be in camp and can't understand why a deal isn't done. Mickey Loomis countered quickly, pledging the organization's unwavering love and desire for Brees to be in camp. But still no deal is apparent. Brees should have instructed Condon to take the deal on the table, which would make him, if not the highest-paid quarterback in the league, certainly one of the top handful. And if you consider all things rationally, there might another QB or two who actually deserve to be paid more. If your main criteria is winning Super Bowls, consider that Tom Brady has won three, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have won two, and Peyton Manning has been there twice with a 1-1 record. You can add in Brees' record-setting 2011 season, beating Dan Marino's passing yardage mark. But how many Super Bowls did Marino win?
Brees is risking damage to the team by not being on Airline Drive during the important on-field activities when camaraderie is rampant and timing between pitcher and catchers is fine-tuned. Especially damaging is the inability of young receivers like fourth-rounder Nick Toon to catch a pass from the starting quarterback until training camp.
Brees still has a chance to salvage his leadership and the bond with his receivers without signing a contract. He could take the same initiative he did last year during the lockout when he gathered his teammates together to work. He became GM, coach and chief schemer to create an ex-officio workout program that greatly contributed to a 13-3 season. He could do the same thing this year on the eve of training camp by assembling his teammates for a voluntary BTA, Brees Training Activities, at a central location such as Tulane University. He could accomplish much of the same things he is missing during the OTA period, and he would at least let the world know he is still a team guy.
Until then, the doubts begin to fester. Brees' stature in Who Dat Heaven is at such a celestial level that nobody has dared suggest he is a selfish athlete. But by holding out beyond a logical date of agreement and risking his team's development in the process, he certainly is showing signs that Brees rhymes with ME.
by Jim W. Miller, former Executive VP for the New Orleans Saints
Don't forget to check out his website: www.JWMillerSports.com and his new book Where the Water Kept Rising
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