Now that it's over, let's take stock of Drew Brees' career.
He played his final game Sunday when he lost to the Buccaneers -- he said he's going to retire. And he certainly is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Plus he's the greatest Saints QB of all time.
But he wouldn't have been the greatest 49ers QB ever -- that's Joe Montana. Nor would Brees have been the second-greatest 49ers QB ever -- that's Steve Young.
Yes, Young was better than Brees, even though Brees has better numbers.
Brees has thrown for the most passing yards in league history -- 80,358 -- while Montana threw for only 40,551 yards, and Young threw for 33,124. And Brees' career passer rating was 98.7, while Young's was 96.8 and Montana's was 92.3.
But those stats say more about the difference in eras than the difference in quarterbacks. Brees played in an era that protected quarterbacks. Defensive players hardly are allowed to touch Brees -- that's why he played into his 40s.
Plus, defensive players hardly are allowed to touch receivers either anymore, and they can't hit them hard over the middle. So passing number have exploded league wide. The average NFL passer rating in 2020 was 92, while in the '80s and in '90s it was 75.
Playing quarterback is so much easier today than it was 30, 40 years ago.
Imagine Young in this era. Imagine him on the Saints. He would be bigger than Brees, faster than Brees, would have a stronger arm than Brees, would be just as accurate as Brees, just as Smart as Brees, just as great of a competitor. And Young probably would have won more than one Super Bowl.
I mean no disrespect to Brees. He's a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he's one of the 15 best quarterbacks of all time. But he wasn't as good as Montana, Young, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, John Elway or Johnny Unitas.
I'm just saying.