Social distancing, wearing face masks and quarantining. They've all become a way of life in our current world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Drew Brees, no more finger licking is part of that list of precautions.
The NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, Brees has been consistently spectacular throughout his career and one of those constants has been a pre-snap lick of the digits. With the coronavirus to worry about, Brees is going cold turkey on the finger-licking goodness that has long been a staple of his career.
"So believe it or not, I am telling you, I haven't licked my fingers in four months," Brees told reporters Saturday, via team transcript. "I used to do it all the time. I mean, it was such a habit, right? Just turning the page of a book or just to get a little tackiness on the fingers. It was just unconscious, but I've consciously broke myself of the habit because of COVID. Probably partly because my wife was there to get on me about it. But even throwing the football on the field, I've not licked my fingers in four months. So I don't know.
"I might have broken myself of the habit. We'll see. Listen, I'll tell you this, if I can break myself of the licking the fingers habit, then I think that means anybody can break themselves of any habit. Because that was out of control how much I was licking my fingers."
A habitual finger-licker over 19 seasons that saw him toss the aforementioned NFL-standard 77,416 yards and 547 touchdowns, Brees' preparation for the season ahead has involved removing a trademark that might well have been associated with seasons of statistical splendor despite its unhygienic ways.
"There was a purpose for it," Brees said. "Like if ever I was needing to pick up a stack of papers and start flipping through them I'd immediately lick my fingers. That was just like whenever I would get a football in my hands, I would immediately lick my fingers."
So, all jokes aside, there is a chance it could hinder Brees if moisture isn't in abundance -- as can be the case inside the confines of the Super Dome.
"Considering that when we're practicing outside in New Orleans this time of year, I have about two gallons of sweat that is flowing from my body," Brees said. "There's plenty of moisture to get, but when you get in the dome or you get in some other maybe drier environments. That's when you've got to have an alternative, but we'll manage."
Being able to manage is likely to be a running storyline for much of the NFL going through the season. For Brees, who was no doubt finger-licking great beforehand, he'll have to manage to kick a habit and kick into gear a Super Bowl favorite all in one unpredictable season.
If nothing more, it should mark the end of a somewhat unflattering quirk.
"Listen, it's one thing to lick your fingers before you get the ball and throw it that's perfectly normal, but to lick my fingers after I throw the ball, it makes no sense," Brees said. "And so I'd see that and I knew it was completely just unconscious. I didn't know I did it until I saw it in a highlight and I would just shake my head and say, I guess that's just one of my quirks."