So recently I went to the Calvary Chapel bookstore, and I saw an autobiography written by...well whaddya know? Drew Brees! I'm always interested in seeing life from a player's perspective, so I bought the book and I started reading it almost immediately. What I read however, shocked me. I wasn't that huge a follower of the NFL back in the days of Drew Brees the San Diego Charger, all I knew was that every Sunday afternoon I would watch the Dolphins play with my family, the Dolphins were all I knew, I didn't care about anyone who wasn't a Dolphin, I think I remember recognizing the name of Vinny Testaverde at a friend's house when the Jets were playing Miami one Sunday, but I don't even remember why, maybe because he was in my video game.
But now that I'm older, I look further into things, and I'm interested in what's going on around the entire league as opposed to just the Dolphins, because what happens around the league affects the Dolphins and their future. And in reading the book, I discovered exactly why Drew Brees chose New Orleans over us. The Miami Dolphins revealed to the now Super Bowl champion, Pro Bowl Quarterback...that we didn't have faith in him.
Maybe this isn't news to a lot of you out there, but it's news to me and it made something else click in my brain that I was already considering. Here's the story. Drew Brees first met with Mr. Nick Saban, now head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, congrats on another championship by the way Nick, still hate you for ruining the Dolphins a long time ago. But anyway, Drew met with Coach Saban, and Drew explains how talking to Nick Saban wasn't all that wonderful.
The book quotes it like this: "Nick was up-front with me. He told me straight out that he was interested in having me play for the Dolphins. His personality is not real warm, and you struggle to get a smile out of him. He's a real hard-nosed, stoic kind of guy, and he did most of the talking at the breakfast, as I recall. He wasn't trying to sell me on his team - he just explained things."
Mind you the meeting took place in Birmingham, Saban and then GM Randy Mueller flew up to meet Drew there when they heard he was gonna visit New Orleans. Smart business move I suppose, giving Drew something to think about, but Saban didn't give a great first impression. Meanwhile, when Drew and his wife Brittany visited New Orleans, he was welcomed with open arms and New Orleans made it very clear they wanted him, and more importantly, they believed in him. They didn't care about the injury he was rehabbing from, they didn't see it as something to be concerned about. Foolish? Maybe. Naive? Most definitely. But something clicked in Drew's head then, he felt wanted by New Orleans, he felt supported by New Orleans...an experience he most certainly would not get in Miami.
His visit to Miami was in a nutshell...disgusting. That's not how he described it but that was my reaction after reading what we did. After a small chat with Dolphins officials, he had an appointment with team doctors...one that neither Drew nor his agent saw coming, seeing as New Orleans hadn't bothered to check him out, or at least that's my interpretation, since the book doesn't mention any examination from the Saints.
We poked and prodded him like he was nothing more than cattle, or at least a rookie at the combine all over again as Drew described it. We gave him a painful once over that involved shots that made his arm swell up, MRIs...it was awful. Now I realize that it was probably a smart move to do so...but if the appointment is unexpected, I would be rather upset over it, especially if they hurt you doing it. At least tell the guy, "Hey, we're gonna check you out when you get here." Common courtesy you know?
Well after all that, both the Saints and the Dolphins received a DVD of Dr. James Andrews repairing all the damage to Drew's shoulder...and remember folks, this injury was potentially a career ending injury, so as much as I don't like how we handled it, I understand why. Drew got praises and pats on the back from the Saints after watching the footage, Miami was skeptical.
In the end, Drew explains that he felt that God was calling him to New Orleans, he felt a pull there. Whether you believe God had anything to do with it is up to you to decide, I personally feel He did, but this is the story in the perspective of Drew Brees. Mind you, Drew gave us one last chance. He called Nick Saban personally and asked about what he thought about the surgery footage. Nick Saban said that he had to trust in the doctors who said they gave Drew a 25% chance of coming back to play. Drew asked Saban what he thought, he wanted to know if Nick Saban had faith in him. Saban repeated the words again, and said the offer could change because of it. Drew promptly said thanks for the chance, and said he was signing with the Saints, then hung up on the "great" Nick Saban. And we all know how the story goes from there. Drew Brees wins a Super Bowl in 2009, Daunte Culpepper our secondary choice...SUCKED.
Now that I've told the story of Drew Brees all over again, you see how much trust in a player can make a difference, if you show that you're not sure on someone, they won't be sure of you either. But go all in, trust that someone will be what you want them to be, and if they have the heart, they more than likely will be. Drew Brees was fighting Philip Rivers for a starting job, San Diego didn't believe in him, we didn't believe in him...New Orleans DID, and now they have a top 5 Quarterback as a result.
Now with all that being said, it's time for me to make my point. There's another man coming off a potentially career ending injury, and like Drew, he's fighting and pushing himself to make a comeback. His name is Marcus Lattimore.
Yeah, it's ugly ain't it? This young man had already ruined his leg once before this, and now he's gone and ruined it again. But what did I just finish saying about Drew Brees? This kid's got heart, he's pushing for a comeback, he recently had a workout day to show what he could still do. I realize we're trusting in Lamar Miller, I think he can be an awesome player, but these are special cases when a man, or in this case perhaps, a kid, is just looking for someone who'll believe in him. Marcus Lattimore was going to be a star, I believe he can be again. All we have to do is put faith in him.
I know we have other more important matters, I know we have to look at the big picture as opposed to just giving one kid an NFL job when in all honesty he may not make a miraculous Drew Brees (or Adrian Peterson?) like comeback, but sometimes it's worth the risk. Let's use a later round pick if he's on the board, just drafting him and giving him a chance will bolster this young man's spirits and determination. And if we learn from our past mistakes and just show we have faith in Marcus Lattimore, he may very well pull through for us, and become one of the greats, just like Drew Brees, who the whole time was just looking for someone who believed in him.