Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.
In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Here is my take on a genuine NFL superstar who is also criminally overlooked.
Man, we don't deserve Drew Brees. He is going to break the NFL's all-time passing record on Monday night, and nobody gives a (expletive). It's true. Sure, you likeDrew Brees. You enjoy his games. Hell, you try to get him on your fantasy team every year. But you also take him for granted. He's so good, you just come to expect a great performance from him, like, every time he takes the field. It's like going to a movie starring Hugh Jackman. You know before you walk in the theater doors that his movie is going to be amazing. Well, not "The Wolverine," but most of those movies.
This is exactly why Brees is the most underrated player in NFL history. You heard me. In. NFL. History.
Don't believe me? Take a moment and make a list of the best quarterbacks ever. Obviously, your list starts with some combination of Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Does Brees make your top three? (He should; he's better than Peyton Manning.) Does he make your top five? Does he even make your top 10? I'm talking about when you originally jotted it down, and not when you went back to redo your list because you felt guilty.
Of course, you shouldn't feel guilty, not because you're right to omit Brees (you aren't!) but because you wouldn't be alone. Here are a couple of postsranking the greatest QBs of all time that were compiled within the past year or two by some of the most prominent, well-respected football minds in the business. Brees doesn't crack either of these lists. And I have to point out again that these are great football minds. This isn't some kid on his Facebook page trying to garner attention by omitting him.
It's crazy that he barely registers when you consider that he's an 11-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP. Now, he's never been a league MVP. Not even when he received his lone first-team All-Pro nod in 2006, in his first season with the Saints. The MVP award went to his former Chargers teammate LaDainian Tomlinson that year. (Since we're here, it's fair to point out Brees was underrated by the Chargers brass who allowed him to walk away from San Diego after the 2005 season. If you ever want to get LT going, ask him how great the Chargers would have been had they kept Brees and drafted Larry Fitzgerald in 2004 instead of picking Eli Manning and then making the Philip Rivers swap.)
But it's nuts. In addition to becoming the NFL's all-time leading passer, Brees has completed the most passes in NFL history (6,344). His 67.1 completion percentage is also tops. He's currently No. 4 on the all-time list with 496 passing touchdowns (43 away from the record, or like six more games against the Falcons). His current passer rating is 97.1 (fourth all time). He's had 30 fourth-quarter comebacks (13 away from the leader, Peyton Manning).
Let's cut to the chase and explore why he's so underrated. I've identified some key potential reasons:
1) He's a good guy.
Nobody likes to root for the good guy anymore. My nephew was so excited to tell me that he was going as Kylo Ren for Halloween. And I was like, "Why are you so excited about that? You know he killed his dad, right?" And my nephew was like, "Evs," and ran off with his lightsaber. I don't want to just say kids today, because I have a photo of me in a Boba Fett costume as a kid. But Brees is one of the nicest guys in the NFL. He's a former winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year. And let's be honest, if you saw him walking down the street, you would think he was a barista at Starbucks, not an NFL quarterback. (Although that should be a reason for you to appreciate him even more.)
2) He doesn't win enough to make you hate him.
Say what you will about Brady, but he wins so much, you physically want him to lose. There's a visceral reaction to everything he does, because he spends so much time beating your team. Brees doesn't have that problem. Not that he isn't great or competitive. But his teams are never good enough for you to hate him. Brady has played on a team with a top-10 scoring defense 13 times in his 17 seasons as the Patriots' starter. It's happened three times for Brees in 13 seasons with the Saints. He never gets the kind of attention that comes with being a generational nemesis for the fans of basically 31 NFL teams.
3) Quarterback record-setting has been done to death.
Like, no kidding. How many times has the all-time passing record been broken in the last decade? Twenty? It's like WWE "Hell in a Cell" matches. After Mick Foley was thrown off the top of the 20-foot high cage and accidentally went through the roof on another spot later in the match, we became desensitized to them. Almost to the point where I practically felt nothing when watching the latest "Hell in a Cell" matches. So until they allow NFL defenders to chase quarterbacks with a bat wrapped in barbed wire, we're not going to care. And given that you can't even look at a quarterback cross-eyed now, well, here we are.