NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees is taking his regular-guy act to the Big Apple this week.
It might not play on Broadway, turn heads on Madison Avenue, or bring the Saints quarterback quite the attention that is showered upon some of his more flashy NFL contemporaries, but it gets extraordinary results on a football field.
"Dude's a surgeon, man," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose team has the task of slowing down Brees on Sunday. "He picks you apart, can make all the throws, all the verticals and things, poised, sees the field, so accurate. ... He's as good as it gets."
Over the past several seasons, Brees has managed to make passing for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns look routine. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to hit both lofty benchmarks in the same season twice. This season he is on pace to do it again, with 2,290 yards passing and 19 TDs through seven games.
Just last week, in a victory over Buffalo that improve New Orleans to 6-1, Brees passed for 332 yards and five touchdowns, making him the first quarterback in league history to throw five TD passes in a game eight times.
But if those who follow pro football want to spend their time discussing the greatness of other quarterbacks, Brees doesn't seem to mind.
"I'm just trying to do my job and be as consistent as I can and continue to improve," Brees said. "I just care about the future — one game at a time, one season at a time.
"I love this game. I want to play it for as long as I can," Brees continued. "When it's all said and done, we can look back and make judgments. But for now it's about winning. It's about trying to find a way to win a championship and being the best decision maker I can be and the most efficient quarterback that I can be — the best leader I can be."
Receiver Lance Moore, who caught one of Brees' TD strikes last week, describes his quarterback as "the ultimate professional," and someone who is "more determined to win games and set us up for potentially winning championships than winning any awards or getting the recognition that maybe he deserves."
Brees will be 35 in January, and a lot has changed in his personal life since he led the Saints to their only Super Bowl title in February 2010. For one, the size of his family has grown from one boy to three. His business interests have grown, as have his endorsements.
Off the field, Brees has become a poster boy for wholesome family values. When he is seen on television commercials, it's almost always with wife Brittany and their boys. One spot for a jeans company shows them having a picnic in a park. Another spot portrays Brees applying ointment to the chest of one of his young boys.
To Brees' teammates, the quarterback's commercials aren't so much an attempt to cultivate an image as a portrayal of who he really is.
Fullback Jed Collins said the commercials remind him of all the times he's seen Brittany walk into Saints headquarters, the boys in tow, during evenings when Brees is studying video of an upcoming opponent. That's when the quarterback takes about a half-hour break, catches up with his wife and plays with his kids.
Adds centre Brian de la Puente: "It's not just like a front. He's like that when there's no camera on."
Brees also remains heavily involved in charity work, raising $20 million through his Brees Dream foundation.
The quarterback said he tries to take the same approach to being a father, a businessman, and pro football player. It starts with being "as present as I can in each of those moments."
"It's about being the best you can be at what you're doing at that moment, and that allows you to do a lot of things and do them well," Brees said. "But you've got to be able to compartmentalize."
Saints players sound convinced that Brees' best days as a quarterback are still ahead. Certainly, the Saints seemed to agree when they signed him in 2012 to a five-year deal worth $100 million.
"His work ethic, schedule, routine and study habits are contagious and I think that's why he has so much success," de la Puente said. "We know he knows the game plan, this offence and their defence inside and out every week.
"People outside the locker room don't get to see his preparation. It really holds everybody else accountable. So you want to do well for him because you know he's giving everything."
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