Brees' pursuit of Unitas record reveals much about both men
Five observations on Drew Brees being on the precipice of breaking the time-honored record of John Unitas for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass:
I tried, and failed, to reach Brees to discuss his chase this week. I assume, like Unitas would have done, Brees would have deflected talk about the record and concentrated solely on the fact that the Saints are 0-4 and playing for their lives Sunday night against San Diego. But he's no dummy. He knows the historical significance of the night, and he knows the NFL wouldn't have let his suspended coach and GM, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis, back in the building were it not for an event such as this.
The Unitas family, through son Joe, sent a classy letter to Brees this week, wishing him well as he plays to break the record.
"The way Dad was,'' said Joe Unitas from his home in Las Vegas, "he felt records were made to be broken. I remember his saying once about this, 'I didn't know I was setting any record, and I didn't care. All I cared about was 'Did we win the game?'
"Dad never talked a lot about his football days. I learned mostly when someone came to interview him. I remember standing off to the side when HBO and NFL Films came to interview him, listening to every word. He just wasn't caught up in his football life. I remember literally he cleaned out the house once and had all his old football trophies out by the trash in a big box, and Mom had to go out there and get them before they were thrown away.''
I know Brees some, and I believe he'd be honored if his peers would say about him: He didn't play for records. That's what Joe Unitas tried to get across over the phone. "Drew, I think, sounds a lot like Dad -- a competitor who is all about winning,'' he said. In a game that's become so numbers-driven, I think he's right about Brees.
I strongly recommend you give a listen this weekend to the fifth NFL podcast of the year, with Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson on coach Chuck Pagano, ill with leukemia, and the NFL's receiving-yardage leader after four weeks, Miami's Brian Hartline. Grigson gets emotional. Hartline gets real. As usual, it's available on
That's the kind of inaccuracy that lands a kicker on the unemployment line. I reference Carpenter because the Dolphins should be in a competitive game in Cincinnati, one that can be won or lost in the final minutes. Hard to see Miami sticking with him much longer if he keeps missing.