Drew Brees‘ illustrious career came to an end with his 2021 retirement, although speculation continued for a time after that regarding his ability to continue playing well into his 40s. If not for a recurring shoulder issue, the future Hall of Famer contends he would still be able to play.
Brees, 44, appeared on ESPN’s Greeny radio show and made a revelation about his throwing shoulder. Due to the nature of the surgery he had in 2005, he said, he was put “on the fast track to a degenerative shoulder and all kind of arthritic changes.” While he managed to play 20 seasons in the NFL and earn numerous accolades along the way, Brees feels he would be able to still add to his resume if not for the procedure.
“Look, I’ll let you in on a little fact. I don’t throw with my right arm anymore. My right arm does not work. So, when I throw in the backyard right now, I throw left-handed… If I could, I would absolutely still be playing.”
The former Super Bowl MVP hinted at a potential return last spring, but any slight chance on that front was extinguished when it was learned he had undergone another procedure on his throwing shoulder. In spite of that, Brees acknowledged “there might have been a feeler or two” with respect to a potential comeback in the years following his decision to hang up his cleats. Arm strength became an issue in the waning years of Brees’ career, so it would have been unlikely he could have enjoyed his previous success with the Saints or another team over the past few seasons.
The 13-time Pro Bowler nevertheless would have made for an intriguing addition to New Orleans (a team which has struggled to find a long-term successor under center, leading to the decision to add Derek Carr on a lucrative free agent deal this offseason) or another interested party. In the end, his initial 2005 procedure – which affected the end of his Chargers tenure and his free agent market – allowed for one of the best careers authored by an NFL quarterback, but it cut short his ability to remain in the league for as long as he intended.