Drew Brees will enter the next chapter of his life as he retired from the NFL on Sunday. And while he sent a message to the fans on Instagram, the 42-year-old former Saints quarterback wanted to do more and penned an open letter to the city of New Orleans, thanking the community for their support for the last 15 years.
"Words cannot express the love and appreciation I have for you," Brees wrote in the letter he sent to NOLA.com. "From the moment I stepped foot into the city of New Orleans, I could feel your spirit. You told me that if I loved New Orleans, you would love me back. No truer words have ever been spoken. You embraced me as your QB and my family as your own. You made me strive to be the best I could be for you. When I was knocked down, you picked me up. It was your passion, emotion, and resilience that made us all believe."
Brees went on to thank Saints owner Gale Benson and the late Tom Benson for bringing him to New Orleans on March 14, 2006. He wrote to Gayle that she is "one of the most kind, generous, and extraordinary people we know. Thank you for your love and grace, guidance and leadership."
The future Pro Football Hall of Famer then thanked his teammates, coaches, training staff, equipment staff and all of the unsung heroes. "To build a great team means finding men of great character, toughness, intelligence, and a fierce love for the game," Brees stated. "But most importantly, the really successful teams in any arena are the ones who love each other the most. When things get tough, which they always do, sometimes the only thing you have to fall back on is the love of those around you. You will push past any perceived limitations you thought you had to fight for each other."
From there, Brees thanked his mentors, family, friends, neighbors and sent a message to the "young dreamers" who are looking to impact the world. He also sent a message to his wife Brittany and four children, who made the retirement announcement with him on Sunday.
"Brittany… You are my angel," Brees wrote. "I am not sure why God blessed me with you, but you have been my shining star. You make me believe that we can accomplish anything. You taught me what it is to be a part of the best team… Your strengths and my strengths overcome our weaknesses. I wake up every day more in love with you than the day before." Brees will now focus on his next venture, which is working for NBC Sports as an analyst.