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Brees aims high

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <strong>June 29, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://www.boilerstation.com/planet/stories/200506290purdue_planet1120023372.shtml">BoilerStation</a>

    It was only his fourth season in the NFL, so it might have been a bit surprising that former Purdue great Drew Brees won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

    After an admittedly miserable 2003 season quarterbacking the San Diego Chargers, Brees bounced back in a mighty way in 2004 -- leading his team to a 12-4 record and into the playoffs.

    All but cast aside when the Chargers acquired North Carolina State's Philip Rivers as their quarterback of the future, Brees said he was so determined to bounce back that he told the San Diego media that he was not surprised when the Chargers named him their 2004 starter at the end of training camp.

    "I was like, I knew I was going to be (the starter)," said Brees, who was the featured speaker Tuesday night at the Northwest Indiana Chapter of the National Football Foundation's inaugural Honors Dinner.

    "I mean, I set all these goals before the season, how am I going to accomplish all these goals if I'm not the starting quarterback? That was a given. Starting quarterback was not on that list of goals."

    And Brees delivered.

    He was selected to play in the Pro Bowl after a season in which he completed 262 of 400 passes (65.5 percent) for 3,159 yards and 27 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions.

    At the end of the season the Chargers tagged him as their franchise player, and Brees signed a new one-year contract.

    "It keeps me in San Diego for another year. So that's the good thing," he said. "It's not the long-term commitment that I wanted."

    During festivities at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms, Brees was presented with the group's Mental Toughness Award, and former Boilermaker men's basketball coach Gene Keady received the Distinguished American Award.

    Three former area high school football players -- Will Bowman of Lafayette Jeff, Titus Michael of Carroll and David Overley of West Lafayette -- all received $500 scholarships.

    Each was a finalist for the Scholar Athlete Trophy and Valley Foundation Scholarship (worth $750), which Bowman received.

    The Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award went to Kay Hunt, for her 20 years with the Little Gridiron program.

    During his speech, Brees talked about how adversity in the sport of football always has seemed to bring out the best in him.

    In high school, it was a severe knee injury during his junior year.

    At Purdue, it was losing 23-21 at Notre Dame in his third career start, in a game he said was the best he'd ever played. For 58 minutes. Until he threw two interceptions in the final two minutes.

    In the NFL, it was the 2003 season and the ensuing offseason.

    Besides Brees, Purdue coach Joe Tiller was probably the least surprised person in the country at how his former quarterback bounced back in 2004.

    "The San Diego media interviewed me a couple of times later in the season," Tiller said. "And they asked, 'Does this surprise you?'

    "And my response was, 'no it didn't surprise me.' If you know Drew Brees and you've watched the things that this guy has done and what he's capable of doing, it's no surprise. It's actually an expectation level."

    The Chargers' 2004 season ended with a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Jets in the first round of the playoffs, even though Brees completed 31 of 42 passes for 319 yards and two TDs, with one interception.

    "I'll say this, at 12-4, that's great and all, but losing in the first round of the playoffs, what good does that do you?" Brees said. "That's just second place. You always want to be first. Runnerup is not the goal. Super Bowl championship is the goal."

    While the disastrous 2003 season admittedly drove Brees, he's got an intense inner drive that supersedes any outside motivation.

    Once again, it's all about those goals he sets for himself, which is why he said this offseason has been even more difficult than last year.

    "It's funny, but it seems like it's easier to go from bad to good than it is from good to great," Brees said. "I don't get motivated when people tell me, you can't do it.

    "Yeah, there is a slight bit of satisfaction when you do prove people wrong. But I don't play the game to prove people wrong. I do it because I want to be great at it. I want to be one of the best to ever play the game."

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