Drew Brees grew up in Texas and started playing for pay in faraway San Diego. But he made New Orleans his home and its cause uniquely his own.
After 43 years of futility and one of the finest quarterbacking performances ever delivered in a Super Bowl, he made sure there’s no need to ask “Who dat?” anymore.
Thanks to Brees, the answer to “Who dat say they gonna beat them Saints?” is: nobody.
“I’m just feeling like it was all meant to be,” he said Sunday after being voted MVP in New Orleans’ 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts. “What can I say? The birth of my son, and in the first year of his life we won a Super Bowl championship.”
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The people of New Orleans will embrace him now tighter than some of their kinfolk. It didn’t hurt that when Brees arrived in 2006, both he and the city were at a crossroads.
A torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in the final game of the 2005 season, coupled with the Chargers’ acquisition of promising young passer Philip Rivers, made Brees expendable and left him wondering whether his career was already on the downside. When Saints coach Sean Payton drove Brees around New Orleans hoping to sell him on joining the Saints, Brees realized, seeing residents struggling to cope with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, that he’d found the perfect place to begin his own comeback.
“Four years ago, who ever thought this would happen?” he said, still fighting back tears.
Earlier, as confetti swirled just above the playing surface at Sun Life Stadium, Brees’ eyes were already watering, trying not to cry as he held his son, Baylen, who was wearing a Saints jersey with his father’s name on the back and a headset so the loud celebration wouldn’t scare him. Brees struggled yet one more time to keep his emotions in check as he lifted the silver Lombardi trophy over his head.
“Eighty-five percent of the city was under water, all the residents evacuated all over the country, people never knowing if they were coming back or if New Orleans would come back,” he said. “But not only the city came back, and the team came back ... when the players got there, we all looked at one another and said, ‘We’re going to rebuild together.’
“We leaned on each other,” Brees said, pausing as he choked up. “This is the culmination of that.”
Ads hit funny bone, again
The advertising showcase that entertains amid the Super Bowl action got off to a funny start with companies like Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola going straight for chuckles.
Advertisers pay dearly for the airtime – from $2.5 million to more than $3 million per 30 seconds – and marketers say ads work best when they focus on the product, as well as entertain.
Among the highlights:
• An ad by restaurant chain Denny’s, which showed chickens nervous about all the eggs they’d have to lay when the company gives out free Grand Slam breakfasts again this year.
• Octogenarians Betty White and Abe Vigoda playing in a muddy sandlot football game for Mars’ Snickers brand was clever and entertaining.
• A promotion for CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” was memorable because its punchline was spoken by Jay Leno, whose show will again be squaring off with Letterman in the fall.
Letterman, sitting on a couch with Oprah Winfrey, says “This is the worst Super Bowl party ever.” Leno replies that Letterman’s “just saying that because I’m here.”