Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Home Sport Dolphins, other teams paid to doubt QB Drew Brees in 2006

Dolphins, other teams paid to doubt QB Drew Brees in 2006

Drew Brees, who set the record for NFL passing yards on Monday, took me back to a mystical time when Brad Childress looked like an oracle and Nick Saban looked like a fool, a time that involved the Miami Dolphins in mediocrity and the New Orleans Saints led to the Super Bowl.

I was training in Fort Myers, Florida in the spring and covered the twins as the dolphins convened a press conference so that Saban could discuss or avoid the signature of Daunte Culpepper.

I drove over Alligator Alley to see Saban standing behind a lectern. He explained why – or did not want to explain why – his team chose Culpepper as a franchise quarterback.

If you remember, Childress' first revelation as Head Coach of Vikings was to ridicule Culpepper's reluctance to rehabilitate his injured knee in Minnesota. Childress described to Culpepper how he worked alone in Florida and said, "They go to a Walmart parking lot to do their exercise, so you can understand where I'm from, there's the HealthSouth, the Chinese restaurant, the laundromat, here is the alley, through the back door and into the Walmart parking lot. "

Culpepper rehabilitated his knee well enough in the Florida parking lot to swap a second-draft pick for the Vikings for him, and picked that prize for the big contract Brees demanded.

Imagine the football landscape if the Dolphins had contracted Brees in 2006 instead of trading for Culpepper.

The dolphins, along with Brees, could have affected the New England Patriots dynasty.

Brees and Tom Brady faced each other twice a season.

Saban could have stayed in South Florida instead of going to Alabama and dominating the college football world.

The saints probably would not have won a Super Bowl.

Childress inherited Culpepper as a franchise quarterback, and while it is now easy to judge him as a loser, he was two years away from the most prolific and impressive season of a quarterback in NFL history at that time.

That's the other twist in the story: if Childress had committed Culpepper, the dolphins might have had no choice but to meet Bree's contract requirements.

Instead, Culpepper flopped, and Childress designed Tarvaris Jackson. Culpepper's failure sent Saban on a quest to find a job where he was guaranteed to have the best talent in the field and Jackson's struggles led the Vikings to sign Brett Favre, who lost to Brees and the Saints in the NFC title game.

Brees became both a cultural and a sporting hero in New Orleans. He lives in Uptown, coaching his children's teams, and helped the city heal from the hurricane Katrina's fury-psychic, if not physical. He has found a home.

I have another personal reminder of Brees. During his last year, I stopped at Purdue's to speak with him. I'm 5-11. He's about my size, maybe a bit shorter. He was not particularly muscular and had that distinctive mole on his face.

He looked like a high school quarterback.

He was a good high school quarterback in Austin, Texas, but his lack of height and a knee injury prevented Texas and Texas A & M from recruiting him, so he signed with Purdue.

The San Diego Chargers made him in the second round and three years later chose Philip Rivers in the first round.

Brees snapped his Labrum in the final game of the 2005 season, and some doctors told him he might not play football anymore.

Athletes love to say that they have silenced their doubters. Brees has just muted the entire football world. The NFL's most prolific passer had to prove and prove himself at every level, and now that he's on the statistical bulletin board, he could go on for a few more years and turn the records of New York-based Peyton Manning into faint memories.

The dolphins could have had him.

Of course, the Vikings could have tried to sign it.

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