Scooter Hobbs column: Brees’ incomplete attempt

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Might as well get this out of the way early.

Drew Brees doesn’t owe the state of Louisiana or its people anything.

That debt was paid off long ago. No need to go through all that again, beginning with becoming the face of hope in post-Katrina New Orleans.

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You already know what Brees has meant to this football-crazy state.

And I fully realize that I may be tiptoeing on sacred ground here — worse, flailing away at a sacred cow.

You see, the original idea for this thesis was to blast mom, hot dogs, apple pie and maybe the red, white and blue and all the national pastimes at sea, including crawfish season.

But instead, well — big gulp, try to regain composure here — it appears that Drew Brees — yes, that Drew Brees — in my humble opinion, at least, needs at least a mild scolding.

Sorry. Believe me, I’m not enjoying this any more than you are.

Brees was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last Saturday in Natchitoches, a no-brainer on the first ballot if there ever was one.

Brees could not make it there personally, which was a shame.

He sent his regrets, along with a pre-recorded video, in which he said all the right things.

Of course, he did. He’s Drew Brees, former NFL Man of the Year, along with most of the other good-guy honors a football player can collect.

“I could not imagine a better place to play football or a better fan base to be able to play in front of,” he said on the video that was played during Saturday’s banquet. “It is kind of like a college atmosphere, the fans are just so invested and they love the team so much … you feel that very quickly. And I’ve always felt like our connection between our team and the Who Dat nation is really the example for professional sports.”

It was an amazing story — a nice guy who admittedly knew next to nothing about New Orleans or Louisiana before basically taking ownership of both.

OK, please don’t shoot the messenger here. But it needs to be said: Where was that famed Who Dat connection Saturday night?

On a video screen?

It’s a minor blip on his legacy to this state. Not even a flesh wound. It will be soon forgotten.

But it was disappointing to a lot of people that he wasn’t there.

Brees did explain in the video that it was a planned, two-week family vacation in Japan that kept him away from Natchitoches.

And, for sure, on top of everything else, we all know what an All-American family man Brees is. He’d be in any Good Dad Hall of Fame, too.

But Brees had known about his LSHOF selection and the likely late June induction ceremonies since at least last August.

That’s when the election for this year’s class was held. My guess is that somebody with the LSHOF, assuming Brees would come in his first year of eligibility, had already made inquiries long before it was official.

It’s hard to believe he couldn’t have worked out something. It’s been done before.

See, this state produces a lot of great athletes, so the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is used to dealing with big stars, and for the most part has always been able to accommodate the true A-listers.

They often have special needs and obligations. It’s different living in their fishbowl. It just is.

But even the biggest of the inductees over the years have seemed to enjoy the long weekend in the very underrated town of Natchitoches.

Or, as Shaquille O’Neal proclaimed it when he took the town by storm for his 2013 induction, “Shaq-itoches.”

They still talk about that weekend, particularly the unannounced side trip his stretch limo made to a fast-food place where all the star-struck employees got the cash tip of a lifetime.

Still, maybe the Manning family has set the standard, which is fortunate given the Hall of Famers they keep churning out in bulk.

It is always a challenge for organizers working around the famed Manning Passing Academy, which is always held at Nicholls State the same weekend that the Hall of Fame usually has its festivities.

But, adjusting dates and a few obligations, it got done for both Peyton and Eli when they followed family patriarch Archie, who spent a good part of his own special weekend hobnobbing with the commoners in the media hospitality room.

You probably already guessed that Peyton doesn’t do anything halfway.

When he was inducted in 2019, he made it a point to research the bios of all of his fellow (lesser known) inductees in advance that year and shocked them with his conversational knowledge and grasp of their careers.

No big-shotting it there.

Again, sorry I had to bring all this up.

Saturday’s ceremonies proceeded just fine without Brees. As usual, it was clear how much the night meant to the inductees.

But — I’ve just got to say it — it wasn’t Brees’ finest night.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled hero worship.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at