The Gulf Coast region could be without two of their stars and adopted sons if Drew Brees and J.J. Watt leave in 2021.
For me, there are benefits to having dual-citizenship between the gulf coast major cities of New Orleans and Houston. I have watched two gifted athletes become pillars of their respective communities. Sadly, in one offseason, both could be gone. A Drew Brees retirement is uncertain. Nevertheless, J.J. Watt definitely will have a new zip code in 2021.
If you drive down I-10 or even fly between New Orleans and Houston, the cultural differences each fan base possesses are noticeable; yet, similar. How? Faith, family, friendships, and community are essential. But, professional football is a vital lifeline to each city.
In Drew Brees and J.J. Watt, these star players mirror the character of the cities each has represented for over a decade. Moreover, they restored faith and hope in fans and followers of the NFL.
One played offense, and the other defense. Still, both men were mega-super stars to many fans, sponsors, advertisers, and the NFL. Though, both men never fell into the traps and hype of stardom. And, neither were perfect.
For 15 seasons, the Who Dat Nation knew that Drew Brees would be the team's leader and field general on most Sundays. They prayed for one more Super Bowl run. Unfortunately, that one more run with Brees didn't come. Retirement may be on the horizon for the future Hall of Famer, but it was his grit on and off the playing field that embodied the passion and resilience of New Orleanians, Gulf Coast residents, and Saints fans.
In 10 seasons, Texans fans applauded the tenacity of J.J. Watt. He patrolled NRG Stadium and created chaos for opposing defenses. 101 sacks and 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards later; who will assume Watt's role? Who will be the voice of the Texans?
Now in 2021, both former Walter Payton Man of the Year recipients may create a void. The WPMOY award "recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field." New Orleans, Houston, and the Gulf Coast communities will never be the same without these two inspiring leaders.
Their presence gave reassurance to areas afflicted and shaken by hurricanes, storms, COVID-19, and other aid.
The Brees Family have become well entrenched in New Orleans that even their offseason jaunts to California and abroad would have fans longing for their return. Drew, Brittany, and their Brees Dream Foundation have given over $45 million for healthcare, housing, programs, children, and families in crisis along the gulf coast region and worldwide.
J.J. Watt is a fixture in the Houston area with his J.J. Watt Foundation. Now married, he still donates his time and resources to help underprivileged children in Houston. His voice is so powerful and respected that a simple social media posting spawned millions in donations for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The fund he established helped 1,183 homes to rebuilt.
Both of their voices are strong in New Orleans and Houston. The star football players' foundations hold charity events, coordinate community outreach programs, providing resources for area school systems, engage their relationships with businesses to act on behalf of the citizens, and the list can go on and on.
For Watt, he will be moving to a new team and possibly out of Texas. Reports have him linked to join the Green Bay Packers or the Cleveland Browns. He definitely would look great opposite Cam Jordan in Black and Gold in the Saints' defense.
Hopefully, for New Orleanians and Who Dats, Brees and his family will remain fixtures. Like the Mannings did after Archie retired from the game. If he and Brittany decide not to stay in the city, Drew will always be a part of New Orleans' fabric and history. His spirit, passion, generosity, and goodwill will still be in the hearts of the Who Dat Nation.