Kiss My Asterisk

Why Drew Brees’ record season isn’t tainted

Photo: Flickr user - Football Schedule

Photo: Flickr user, Football Schedule

Last week, CBS’s Mike Freeman had the audacity to make the case that the yardage record that Drew Brees now owns should be written in the record books with an asterisk. Today he wrote that the Packers are the NFL’s only great team. Meanwhile his coworker, Pete Prisco, published an article with this headline: “Brees’ record-breaking night tainted by decision to go for it late,” and still in another corner of the universe Jason Cole asks if we were “right” in running up the score.

I’m forced to ask a simple question: are they watching the same game as us? I can barely express how infuriating this is (on today of all days). Fortunately though, I think I can muster up responses to defend the honor of our quarterback, the quality of this team, and the depth of my hatred for national media coverage today.

Let’s start chronologically and work our way through each offending article. The first is from our “friend” Mike Freeman who made the silly argument that…well, here’s a sampling:

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#5a5a5a”]Like Marino, Brees is using pinpoint accuracy to shred defenses. Unlike Marino, Brees is doing it with liberal rules that leave defenses playing with one hand tied behind their back. In effect, Brees’ record will be severely watered down. So much so, that it almost deserves an asterisk.[/pullquote2]

Bullshit. He later goes on to make the statement outright:

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#5a5a5a”]And yes, it deserves an asterisk.[/pullquote2]

Look, I understand that defensive rules have changed and offenses have the advantage, blah, blah, blah. But c’mon. Really? An asterisk? The negative connotations alone make that an offensive statement. The only time we talk of asterisks is with steroids. And Freemanknew that. It’s a sensational argument that probably got CBS a ton of hits, but if you put an asterisk on this record, you’d have to begin segregating eras of the game.

Should we look at defenses before the modern rules and give them asterisks? Should we start creating a new set of records for every rule change? Hell, why don’t we just sub-divide every era into single seasons and each season, players can set “records” and we’ll put asterisks on all of them. I’m merely extrapolating Freeman’s own logic to its inevitable conclusion. It’s a ridiculous argument, it’s a ridiculous article and I’m moving on.

Unfortunately, we’re not moving far. Freeman’s very next article has the following summary on CBS.com

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center”  textColor=”#5a5a5a”]Thanks to a down year, Packers have a cakewalk to the Super Bowl

The Eagles are finished. The Patriots don’t play any sort of defense. This is what happens when the NFL is a model of mediocrity. It’s also why Mike Freeman says the Packers have the easiest path to winning the Super Bowl in decades.[/pullquote2]

Easiest path in decades?! Come again? Furthermore, he breaks down the league in his article justly:

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#5a5a5a”]There is one great team in football (the Packers). There is one good team (the Saints). There are three slightly above average teams (the 49ers, Patriots and Steelers). Ninety percent of the rest are spectacularly average. The remaining are pain-inducing putrid.[/pullquote2]

Drew Brees just broke the single season yardage record. He will likely break his own record for completion percentage, and is having what is likely the best non-MVP season of any quarterback ever. And that’s just our quarterback. The Crescent City Express is only 200 yards from breaking the single season yardage record set by the Greatest Show on Turf. We also lead the league in our third down completion percentage at 56.3% (bolstered by going 9 for 9 on third down in the first half last night) which is on pace to break another NFL record. But that’s not all: we’re also 9 first downs from having the most first downs in a season (held by the ’07 Pats) as well as two plays away from having the most passing first downs in a season.

I could go on to point out that we’ve got a better defense than Green Bay and the Patriots in nearly every category except turnover (which, to be fair, is important). I could point out that we have a solid special teams. I could point out that we’re a much better (and more well-rounded) offense with more weapons. I could point out that we’re better suited to play in the cold than Green Bay, but I won’t.

We lost a tough game to Green Bay to open the season. That Thursday night season opener is impossible to win. It’s so impossible that we’ve nicknamed it the Suicide Game. Seriously, go look at those stats, not only do visiting teams lose the Suicide Game, but it often devastates their season. We can play with Green Bay, make no bones about that. To say that they’re the only great team in football is, at best, a gross overstatement, and, at worst, an egregious insult to this team. It’s like he hasn’t watched this team play in the past two months…Speaking of people who haven’t watched us play: WTF Pete Prisco.

Last week you finally admit that Drew is an elite quarterback (thanks for that by the way. It only took the six most productive years of any quarterback in the history of football for you to notice. We appreciate it), but sometimes you just go too far. With the title of his new columnBrees’ record-breaking night tainted by decision to go for it late, you ruin all the good will (okay, there was never good will, but whatever) from last week. This sentiment is actually echoed by Yahoo Sport’s Jason Cole who posted a similar column entitled Were Saints right to run up score for Brees’ record.

First of all, Brees now has 5,087 yards and if the final 30 yards is enough to “taint” the record, then you might as well put an asterisk on it. As to Cole’s point, to say that we ran up the score is overstating things a touch. If you just look at the boxscore, it may look like we ran up the score, but here are our drives in the second half:

Up 21-10: 3 plays, 20 yards – Interception
Up 21-10: 6 plays, 86 yards – Touchdown
Up 28-13: 4 plays, 3 yards – Field Goal (Long Sproles Return)
Up 31-16: 3 plays, 8 yards – Punt
Fumble Recovery For a Touchdown
Up 38-16: 6 plays, 33 yards – Touchdown

Is Sproles supposed to take kick returns off when we’re up by two touchdowns? Is Jenkins supposed to not run back a fumble for a touchdown? Was Payton really supposed to send Chase Daniel in the game when Drew was only 30 yards from the record? That would have been a cloud in the locker room and I’m sorry but Drew deserved to break that on a national stage. The record was larger than the game and those fans deserved to cheer for their champion. It’s better to get that record now, at the end of a game rather than have it destroy the flow of the season finale early in the first quarter. It was the right decision and if you had been paying attention, I’m pretty sure you would have been aware of that.

I’ll close with one final quote from our friends over at Gambit:

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#5a5a5a”]And, not that it matters, but Brees and Payton didn’t need the Falcons permission to break the record and, if Atlanta really had a problem with it they could have, you know, stopped Brees.[/pullquote2]

Author

Ryan Chauvin
A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but with a surname that indicates his importance to the history of a tiny town in South Louisiana, Ryan Chauvin currently lives in Houston, TX, doing general (read: non-sports) internet things. Ryanwas on Jimmy(!)’s bandwagon before it was cool, and has never predicted that the Saints will lose a game.