Going the distance: Brees breaks NFL mark for yards passing
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 9
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing — and he did it with a certain panache and precision that made the 39-year-old quarterback look far from finished.
Brees eclipsed Peyton Manning’s previous record of 71,940 yards with a 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tre’Quan Smith during the second quarter of a 43-19 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
“Just so grateful for the opportunity to play this game and to have played it so long and to have the teammates that I have, and the New Orleans Saints organization, and this great city and this great fan base. It’s just truly been a dream come true,” Brees said. “I’ll be able to reflect on it maybe a little bit more when my career is done. I still feel like there’s work to be done.”
After the record-breaking completion, officials stopped the game and the game ball was handed over to Pro Football Hall of Fame officials on the sideline while the Superdome crowd offered a standing ovation. Brees removed his helmet, held out his arm to salute the crowd and hugged his wife, Brittany, and children on the sideline.
“I love you guys so much,” Brees said while hugging his three boys as Brittany held their daughter nearby. “You can accomplish anything in life if you’re willing to work for it.”
Brees entered the game needing 201 yards for the record. He had 250 by halftime. Brees, who already holds the single-season record for completion rate at 72 percent last season, finished the game a remarkable 26 of 29 for 363 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns — two of them going to Smith, a third-round draft choice out of Central Florida has played just five NFL games and is now immortalized because of his role in Brees’ record-breaking pass.
“Congrats on the achievement/milestone. Sheesh that’s a lot of passing yards!!” LeBron James tweeted.
In a victory at Atlanta earlier this season, Brees broke Brett Favre’s career record of 6,300 completions. Brees still needs 41 touchdown passes to surpass Manning’s record of 539, something the Saints quarterback could achieve next season if he maintains his current level of play. But Brees also would have to outpace New England’s Tom Brady, who has 500 TD passes, the only active player with more than Brees in that category. Brees now has 499.
Manning, a New Orleans native whose father, Archie, starred for the Saints, could not attend the game because of a scheduling conflict. However, he had pre-recorded a congratulatory message played on the Superdome’s video boards. Shown on the video slicing tomatoes, Manning deadpanned that his time as the career yards passing leader have been “the greatest thousand days of my life.”
“Thanks to you, that’s over now,” Manning continued as the laughter erupted in the stands. “You’ve ruined that for me.”
“Also, let this serve as the congratulations for the touchdown record because as you can see, I’m very busy,” Manning added. “I don’t have time to keep doing these videos for you.”
On a more serious note, Manning said Brees broke the record “the right way.”
“All your hard work and dedication have paid off,” Manning said while holding up a photo of himself and Brees standing side-by-side in 2000, when Brees was still at Purdue and Manning was a third-year pro. “You and I have come a long way since this picture.”
Saints officials said Brees also would hand his uniform over to the Hall of Fame after the game.
Brees is in his 18th season out of Purdue. The San Diego Chargers took the 6-foot Brees at the beginning of the second round of the 2001 draft, but allowed him to leave in free agency after a major throwing shoulder injury at the end of the 2005 season.
The Saints, at coach Sean Payton’s insistence, took a chance on Brees in 2006, and the payoff has been extraordinary. Brees has passed for more than 59,000 yards and more than 400 TDs in 12-plus seasons for New Orleans, smashing every meaningful Saints passing record while helping long-frustrated franchise win its first Super Bowl in 2010 and go to the playoffs six times.
With the game in hand, Payton subbed Brees off the field after the two-minute warning so the quarterback could have one more interaction with the appreciative crowd.
“He deserves it. It’s been an unbelievable run,” Payton said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been 13 years.”
In 2012, Brees also set the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 54. Brees surpassed Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 straight — which had stood since 1960. Former Saints receiver Devery Henderson, who caught the pass on which Brees broke Unitas’ mark, attended Monday night’s game.
The game featured other touches meant to honor Brees. In the press box, the Superdome catering staff served “beefy mac,” a meal of macaroni with ground beef that has long been one of Brees’ traditional meals on the night before games.
Brees also was the final Saints player to run onto the field during pre-game introductions as fans belted out elongated howls of “Dreeeeeeew.”
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It’s naive to think college athletes have time for school
October 9, 2018
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Ursinus College
Jasmine Harris does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
From my first day as a sociology professor at a university with a Division I football and men’s basketball team, education and athletics struck me as being inherently at odds.
Student-athletes filled my courses to take advantage of the fact that the classes met early in the morning.
The football and men’s basketball players – most of whom were black – quickly fell behind due to scheduling constraints. Only so much time was set aside for academics and, often, it wasn’t enough. Academic rigor and athletic success were simply incompatible goals.
Now – as a researcher who is studying college athletes through the lens of race and class – I have compiled evidence to show just how much more time college athletes devote to sports over academics.
Lopsided but ‘normal’
Early data from my ongoing research on the academic experiences of black Division I football and men’s basketball players shows that they spend three times as many hours per week on athletics as they do on academics. On average, the players spend more than 25 hours on sports-related activities other than games, such as practice, workouts, general team meetings, film sessions and travel. On the other hand, the player spend less than eight hours on academics outside of class, such as writing papers, studying, getting tutored or working on group projects. This imbalance is institutionally constructed and perpetuated. Perhaps most disturbingly, the student-athletes I surveyed perceive this lopsided situation as “normal.”
Some may argue that the players should be satisfied with the fact that their scholarships enable them to reap the benefits of a college education. The problem with that argument is that college athletes aren’t able to fully actualize their identities as students to the same degree as their classmates. College sports is just too demanding, and universities do not make any special concessions for athletes’ additional time commitments.
Money at stake
It is important to distinguish the lives of college athletes who don’t generate money for their institutions, such as soccer and tennis players, versus those who are deeply intertwined with the generation of revenue for colleges, universities and the NCAA, which cleared US $1 billion in revenue in 2017. That kind of money cannot be made without serious time commitments among the players.
Every time I watch a college football or men’s basketball game on TV, I can’t help but wonder what the players on my screen missed in class that day.
They are students such as Jalen (a pseudonym), a football player who requested a meeting with me mid-semester. He wanted to discuss how my office hours conflicted with the team practices and film sessions. For an hour we discussed what he understood as unfixable. Jalen wanted and needed to utilize the main academic support systems provided by the college, but literally didn’t have the time.
Jalen was by no means alone. Rather, his plight was emblematic of untold numbers of college athletes who struggle to balance sports and academics.
Workers or students?
So, are college athletes workers who attend school part-time? Or are they students who play sports part-time? Players at schools across the country are speaking up about the fact that they generate revenue for the colleges they play for but not for themselves. They have attempted to unionize and filed lawsuits to get what they see as their fair share.
Meanwhile, the NCAA claims that student-athlete balance is not only possible, but that most Division I players achieve it.
The reality is most football and men’s basketball players underperform academically and routinely graduate at lower rates than “other student-athletes, black non-athletes and undergraduates in general.”
Recent academic scandals – from fraudulent classes to inappropriate tutor support and administrative cover-ups – reveal that a sports-first mentality permeates college campuses.
The NCAA continues to describe Division I football and basketball players as “regular students who happen to play sports.” However, the NCAA rarely details how this student-athlete balance is supposed to work. There are tournament time commercials that remind viewers how most college athletes “will go pro in something other than sports.” However, less mentioned, if at all, are what kind of practical routes exist to this theoretically “balanced” identity. Even the NCAA’s own surveys of college athletes show that athletics takes precedence over academics.
Coaches and college staffers are getting rich in the name of higher education while their mostly black players are – in their own words – “broke.” And this despite the fact that student-athlete responsibilities have grown as the business of college sports grows. For instance, some of the games last longer, and the average hours that players spend per week on athletes continues to creep upward.
Recently, 2017 Heisman runner-up, Bryce Love, drew criticism for “setting a bad precedent” for choosing to attend summer classes instead of Stanford’s media day.
Almost 60 percent of participants in my current national research study find it difficult or very difficult to balance sports and academics – from the moment they set foot on campus until graduation, if they graduate at all. Considering the fact that less than 2 percent of college football players get into the National Football League, and only 1.2 percent of college basketball players get drafted into the National Basketball Association, the reality is that many college athletes will never see a payoff in professional sports. But the real tragedy is that – having devoted so much time to sports instead of their studies – they won’t really get to see their college education pay off, either.