NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was my good fortune yesterday to leave the Mercedes-Benz Superdome some one hour after a long, three-hour and 42-minute game just as the Carolina Panther buses were being ushered to the airport by a police escort.
Pulling in behind them made for a speedy navigation of the traffic jam that still clogged the interstate. No one was moving, but probably few were complaining. That's no punishment. That's the reward you get as part of a sell-out crowd who stayed till the final second of a thrilling three-point divisional win.
It hadn't been nearly as difficult to leave the Dome after the last home game, when much of the crowd had departed long before the end of a 45-32 smackdown by the Falcons. But what Drew Brees said afterward and the tone he set then may have been as responsible for the subsequent two-game winning streak as another of his record-breaking performances yesterday.
After a third straight loss and the worst of the three, he said, among other things: "This is a test to bring you closer...We have the right type of guys...At some point it turns...maybe this week." And against San Diego it would, and it has - at least for now.
Prior to the Charger game, he called this Saint aggregation "an ascending team." We saw what we saw and said, "What?" He saw what we aren't privileged to through his usual rose-colored glasses and was convinced "why." One of the main reasons is "who" leads this football team and the class, candor, and optimism with which he does.
His post-game press conference after the Falcon game when he probably wanted to be anywhere but there was seven minutes and 17 seconds long. His first answer to the first question was 204 words and a minute and 21 seconds long.
Cam Newton's petulant post-game appearance yesterday was barely longer than Brees' first answer. Ninety seconds and all of 48 words. Certainly actions speak more loudly than words. But as the player who most sets the tone for his team, both word and deed are critically important as Drew's have been.
There are occasions when you might question his play - though seldom.
But occasions when you might question his leadership? Never.