Why on earth was a 36-year-old Drew Brees playing injured in a meaningless game?
Drew Brees became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to reach 60,000 career yards in the Saints game against the Lions on Monday night, a nice accomplishment and a highlight in an otherwise dour loss to Detroit.
Brees also injured his foot in the game during the second quarter, and despite needing a walking boot later that evening, Brees finished the rest of the game. He played on an injured foot, hobbling around, as a 36-year-old quarterback in a meaningless game in December.
How on earth was this allowed to happen?
And before we dive too much into it, I know every game in the NFL is “meaningful.” I know Saints fans paid a lot of money to be there, and the team should try to win every game, blah de blah. Here’s the thing: The Saints aren’t getting an NFC Wild Card spot. They’re not catching the Seahawks, Packers or Vikings (or any of the other teams ahead of them in the standings). As much as an NFL game can be meaningless for a team, this was that for the Saints.
And they had their injured franchise quarterback hobble around for half the game.
If Brees is part of the plan for the Saints moving forward, this was an inexcusable decision. Brees isn’t exactly in-his-prime Michael Vick out there in the best of health, and to put him out there with even more limited mobility was to put him at risk for even more injury.
And maybe Brees isn’t part of the plan moving forward. Perhaps the Saints wanted to allow him to get to that 60,000-yard mark in a Saints jersey, knowing that Brees — who is due $20 million in salary and bonuses next year for a team projected over the salary cap — will be somewhere else in 2016.
It still doesn’t justify the decision to leave him in the game. You can’t blame Brees, either — NFL players are conditioned to want to play no matter what. They tough it out. They’re “warriors.” If an injured player needs to be out of the game, the team needs to make that decision on his behalf.
Brees is getting an MRI on Tuesday and might be fine. But no matter the outcome of that MRI, the Saints made the wrong decision leaving him in the game. Whether or not he’s part of the team moving forward, Brees deserved better.