Steve Young: Brees successor will face impossible situation

Tells Saints fans to live in the moment

Mark Menard
August 21, 2019 - 12:49 pm
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Make no mistake. Drew Brees is still the unquestioned starting quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. And he has never given any indication that retirement is in the near future.

But now that Brees has crossed over into the land of 40-somethings, the question of when he'll call it a career looms far larger than ever before. And it's a question that haunts some Saints fans, who parse every pass, looking for signs of age-initiated degeneration in the skills of #9.

Whether or not the heir apparent to Brees as the Saints' next quarterback is Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill, or someone honing their craft someplace outside of the Crescent City, one thing is for sure. The pressure on that signal-caller when the time comes will weigh heavily on their shoulders. Take it from a man who knows a thing or two about following a legend.

ESPN analyst Steve Young is a Hall of Famer who followed a Hall of Famer. A Super Bowl champion who followed a Super Bowl champion. He was already an experienced pro, a veteran of the USFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he took the reins of the San Francisco 49er offense from Joe Montana. And he says the weight of those expectations was great.

"Too much," Young said. "It's not manageable, so you have to leave it behind. I finally learned that. It really becomes a personal quest. Once you get that into your mind, how good can I be, and I'm gonna try to be better every day, you don't mostly leave behind the comparison."

Young said the only way he got through it was to put blinders on.

"You have to have a mental focus, an emotional focus on what you're trying to accomplish," Young said. "And then just have a talk-track. Every question you get about Drew Brees, you just answer it and move on."

Young said, even after all the accolades he achieved, the comparisons to Montana linger even in 2019.

"You get on Twitter today, and someone will say, 'Joe, Steve, Joe, Steve,'" Young laughed.

So how does one step into the role once occupied by a living legend? Brees is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and will very likely hold every significant quarterbacking record in the NFL history books when he finally calls it quits. Young said the best advice he can give the Saints' next triggerman is to keep things in perspective.

"You're never gonna be [Brees], so don't even try," Young said. "Even if you were, they would remember Drew better. I remember so many times, I was like, 'You know, Joe Montana did throw an interception. Did you guys know that? He lost a game. They actually lost a game... I promise you. something bad happened.'"

Young also had some sage advice for the Who Dat Nation about managing expectations and living in the moment.

"There's a handful of guys in each generation that are gonna go to the Hall of Fame, and there's 32 teams," Young said. "The odds of you finding two in a row are super-low. There's some teams in the NFL that have been looking for a quarterback for 30 years. What I would say to people in New Orleans is just love every minute. Just love every minute. And when it's over, you start over."

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