Over that past half decade, members of the media have gotten used to the way Drew Brees answers questions--always direct and with laser beam eye contact.
The Saints superstar never reveals more than he had planned to and, for the most part, gives what we expect and little more. That is until recently when he was asked about Jimmy Graham.
While Drew usually answers without pause, a question about the towering tight end playing in only his third year of football, he does pause, looks up at the ceiling, smiles and then speaks in the most glowing terms.
It is widely known that Brees has been mentoring the young phenom, who recently broke and briefly held the record for most receiving yards by an NFL tight end in a season. What most fans cannot see is the look on the face of Brees when he talks about Jimmy, the same look that can be seen on Jimmy's face when he speaks about Drew.
This is much more than a veteran quarterback mentoring a hot new prospect. On and off the field, there is a growing bond, respect and deep-rooted trust which exists between the two that is inspiring to watch.
In a recent post-game interview, Brees talked about watching football on television with his young son, Baylen. After Brees pointed himself out to his son, the boy responded with. "I am Jimmy Graham," clearly a sign that Graham has made an impact on Baylen and that the Brees family have become close off the field.
Graham did his part to display affection for Drew when he suggested that were Drew ever to retire, he would as well. Don't see that coming any time soon with Graham's meteoric rise to the top of his profession at a very young stage of his development and career.
NFL fans have seen close friendships between players before, most notably Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo of "Brian's Song" fame from their days together with the Chicago Bears. But maybe, just maybe, this relationship goes a bit deeper.
Jimmy Graham was, for much of his life, raised in foster care and has recently made a public service announcement to that effect. Perhaps the Saints are his family in many ways now. If that is truly the case, Brees is certainly a father or big brother figure to the eager, enthusiastic, precocious Graham.
With sons of his own now, perhaps Brees has begun to look at the players around him with the eyes of a father. I would like to think that Brees sees Graham as the type of young man he'd like his sons to grow up and become.
Only Archie's son Cooper, the only Manning to not play in the NFL, was a receiver. It would have been a thrill for father and son and fans everywhere to see Archie throw a pass to his son, but time and circumstance made that impossible. The closest we may ever get to seeing a father and son playing catch in a real game is when Drew Brees connects with Jimmy Graham and we are all the better for it.
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