ATLANTA GA - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field in the second half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 27 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Is Drew Brees The New Brett Favre?

It sounds like heresy, but listening to Drew Brees being deified Monday Night, it was reminiscent of America's first true love—Brett Favre. It's not a reflection on Brees—he's great—but is America making the same mistakes all over again?

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Is Drew Brees The New Brett Favre?

Drew Brees led the Saints to a comeback victory in Atlanta last night, and when he stopped for his post-game interview, he looked like exactly what he's become: a Goddamn American hero. As I wrote this summer, he's the coolest player in the coolest sport in America.

When Michelle Tafoya asked him what it was like to be under duress all night long, he shrugged, smiled, and said, "You know, that's part of it ... Sometimes you get a clean pocket, sometimes, you know, they're gettin after ya." Pssh... Don't you see? Drew's going to kick ass regardless.

[/swoon]

He personifies all the cliched intangibles that fans and sportswriters hold dearest. Sure, it's easy to point out that no man can possibly embody that much gumption and perseverance and gritty-yet-glamorous winner's charm, but rejecting someone like Drew Brees is like rejecting Santa Claus. Like, thanks for stating the obvious, Scrooge.

Except... During Monday night's Falcons game things got a little out of hand. It's okay to think of Brees in this deifying light, but when we're watching his flaws get exposed and announcers keep up with all this myth-making, it gets a little insulting. And all night long against the Falcons, the announcers praised Brees' tenacity, leadership, decision-making, and pretty much any other quality you could want in a quarterback. Especially when this happened:

Matt Millen announcing clip: "As my buddy Steve Young said earlier, that's Favrelous."

Or, as Mike Tirico said during the broadcast, "That's the best no-gain of the year!" But sitting around watching the game with friends, we all had the same reaction--whoa, that was incredibly stupid, huh? Pierre Thomas bobbled the catch, it was technically a lateral and easily could have been a fumble, and Brees was sandwiched between two Falcons as he threw it. Just dumb.

'Course, nobody on the broadcast even mentioned that part of it. It was all "WOW" and no "Wait, what in the hell was he thinking?" It was positively Favrelous. The follow-up was fitting:

Even then, nobody mentioned that Brees' risk-taking finally caught up with him. The next series, talk was all of Brees' "amnesia" and how he's "tough as nails" and blah blah blah. Cue interception number two.

This isn't to say Brees didn't follow that sequence with a backbreaking 13-play, 90-yard drive that won the game for New Orleans and erased any lingering doubt created by the earlier mistakes. False deity or not, he's still awesome. But still. For those scoring at home, this level of blinding affection hasn't been seen since the ole gunslinger himself, and I'm as guilty as anyone.

From this past summer, this was consciously ridiculous hyperbole on my part. But still:

If you had to point to one person as an example of why football is awesome, you'd probably choose Drew Brees. He's beaten the odds at every stop to turn himself into a borderline Hall-of-Famer, and his team into Super Bowl champions. What's not to like?

GAHHHH! These are the exact same things people used to say about Brett Favre.

"I don't care whether people are Packers fans or whatever, I'll reiterate what we said, rooting for Favre is like rooting for America." - Chris Berman

We haven't quite gotten to true Favrelous levels of insanity, like when we implied that Brett Favre helped cure brain cancer. Of course it's not that ridiculous. Right? It's not like Drew Brees has been widely credited with spurring the recovery of New Orleans or anything.

Err... Okay. If we're not in Favre territory already, we're fast approaching, and at the same time, Drew Brees is quickly becoming beyond reproach. Like football Santa Claus. So upon review... Maybe having a football Santa Claus isn't such a great idea, after all.

When we're asked to believe in a fairytale like that, it makes the rational folks among us feel like Scrooge for doubting him. Isn't it possible to just root for football players? Instead of these false idols destined to fall short of the ideal and have NFL announcers insult our intelligence as they try to pretend the mistakes never happened. Is this a function of our collective impulses as fans, or the way TV networks view us as fans? In other words, should we blame the masses, or Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski?

We can blame the latter, but as NFL coverage drifts further into idolatry territory, the league's ratings have been better than you could possibly imagine. So maybe it's both, and the cycle feeds itself.

In any case, I just needed to vent after last night. And don't worry, nobody's saying Drew Brees isn't completely ridiculous as a quarterback. His ability to withstand Atlanta's Monday night pass rush was amazing, and if it's all myth, then Drew Brees is still pretty great at playing the hero.

But to put this in perspective, Brett Favre used to be the exact same hero, and the two biggest stories of the NFL year (the Saints and Brett Favre) may not be as contradictory as they seem. Maybe one's just further along in America's cycle of affection.

So when Brees starts to decline and announcers insist on overlooking his flaws and upholding this false ideal, don't say you weren't warned. This is what we do now with football players now. Especially the best ones. All of which is to say, if we're going to play this game, then Drew Brees can be Santa Claus, but have you guys seen Tom Brady lately? He really might be Jesus.

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