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NFL History Suggests Brees Will Be Better Than Ever When He Returns From Thumb Injury

As Saints fans know by now, starting QB Drew Brees is expected to miss at least 5 more regular season games until his expected return to the team’s starting line-up, while he recovers from surgery for a torn thumb ligament in his right throwing hand.

But if both past and recent NFL History is any indication with players who suffered the exact same injury such as retired NFL legend Brett Favre and current Indianapolis Colts starting QB Jacoby Brissett , then the eventual rehab and recovery process for Brees should allow him to pick up right where he left off. 

As it turns out: just last week, Favre — who retired a few years ago after a brilliant NFL Hall of Fame career spent mostly with the Green Bay Packers — told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he can relate to exactly what Brees is going through at the moment.

Drew Brees Thumb Injury

(Courtesy Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

When asked specifically if he expected the injury to hamper Brees when he returns to game-action, Favre said he felt Brees would essentially be able to pick right up where he left off, just so long as there are no complications during the recovery process.

“No doubt that Drew’s work ethic and his desire is going to get him back, I would assume, quicker”, Favre said

And if anyone knows about what it takes to successfully recover from the very same type of injury that Brees experienced a week and a half ago against the Los Angeles Rams, it’s the legendary Favre himself.

It was 16 years ago that Favre experienced a similar injury while he was the starting QB for Green Bay, during the 2003 Season. In his specific case however, Favre actually broke his right thumb after banging it on a teammate’s shoulder pads; which occurred on the first play of the game in the Packers’ victory against the Rams at St. Louis (a decade and a half ago).

Unlike Brees though. Favre opted not to have surgery and played through the injury; and the Packers coaching staff at that time compensated by using a simple game plan, which was to keep all of Favre’s throws mostly short.

In fact, he spread them around the field to no less than a total of eight different receivers and had them do almost all of the work by gaining yards after the catch. The Packers ended up winning the NFC North Division that year with a (10-6) win-loss record, before they eventually were defeated in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs by the Philadelphia Eagles

That similarity to what Brees experienced aside, a more recent thumb injury suffered by current Indianapolis Colts starting QB Jacoby Brissett, might serve as a better comparison to what Brees had happen to him.

It was only just 3 years ago while Brissett was still a back-up QB filling in for starting New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (while Brady was serving a season-beginning 4-game suspension at that time for his role in the “Deflate Gate” controversy), that Brissett had the same injury happen to him like the one Brees suffered against the Rams.

Brissett suffered the injury during a Week #3 loss in the Patriots’ Thursday Night match-up over the Houston Texans. and afterwards had the same medical procedure just like the one that Brees had a week and a half ago.

Photo by Christopher Evans. The Boston Globe

Brissett made a full recovery from that injury but was eventually was traded to Indianapolis prior to the start of the 2017 NFL Season. where he first served as a back-up QB to then-Colts starting QB Andrew Luck.

Luck missed all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury. Brissett ended up finising that season with 3,098 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, which aren’t great numbers but in Brissett’s defense, he was still learning the Colts offensive playbook “on the fly”.

Brissett sat behind Luck last year during the 2018 Season, but was elevated to the starting QB role for the Colts’ following Luck’s shocking retirement right before the start of this current 2019 Season.

After 3 games thus far, Brissett has guided the Colts to a (2-1) record, and has completed 66-out-of- 92 pass attempts for 646 yards. But perhaps more impressively as far as the Colts are concerned at the moment: Brissett has thrown 7 TD passes to only 1 interception along with a career-high 71.7% completion percentage, and appears to be headed for what should be a very solid NFL career.

(Photo by Getty Images)

It’s one of the reasons why Indianapolis decided to stop Brissett from hitting the open market next off-season and signed him recently to a 2-year, $30 million contract extension once Luck made his earlier-than-expected retirement before this current season began.

Bottom line: these are only just two small examples of what it’s like for other NFL quarterbacks of note that have gone through what Brees has, and who were able to find success after they suffered the exact or similar injury to the one that the Saints’ living legend has.

By all accounts thus far, Brees’ surgical procedure conducted by famed-Los Angeles based hand specialist Steven Shin went smoothly with no anticipated ‘set-backs’, and he’s on track to return within about six weeks.

That would put the 40-year old Brees back in the line-up when the Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in Week #9, after the Saints’ Bye Week. 

Photo Credit: Associated Press

But for Who Dat fans everywhere who were wondering if Brees will ever be the “same” QB that he was before the injury, both Favre and Brissett’s stories are indicative of the fact that it’s an injury that shouldn’t have any adverse or lingering affects once he returns.

And to be honest: a sound argument could easily be made that Brees will be even better than ever.

That hopefully will alleviate any remaining concerns that either the team or Brees himself will have moving forward, as the Black and Gold try to “hang in there” and win as many games as they possibly can during Brees’ absence….

Saints News Network featured columnist and Big Easy Magazine contributing writer Barry Hirstius is a 52-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 45 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....


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