On February 7, 2010, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl for the first time. The game, watched by 106 million people, was the most-watched television event in history. Quarterback Drew Brees was named the game's MVP and says the whole experience was surreal. "Even right now as I sit here, I have to pinch myself and say, 'Did that really happen?'"
After the years of struggle the city of New Orleans has been through since Hurricane Katrina, Drew says he knew America was on the Saints' side. "I feel like the energy of the country was with us," he says. "Regardless of whether you were a Saints fan before that, I think everyone was able to relate with everything that our city has been through over the last four years and what our team means to the city and what a win would do for them. I am so glad we were able to give them that championship, because they deserve it."
Though Drew says he tried to approach it like any other game, the energy and excitement surrounding the Super Bowl was undeniable. "You try not to think that 106 million people are watching, because you'd probably get really nervous, but just the emotions surrounding that game. Our head coach, Sean Payton, did an unbelievable job throughout the week of trying to prepare us for that, but still each guy in their own way, when the game starts, you just have to kind of find a way to reel it all in," he says. "For the first half of the first quarter, emotions are running so high that you just have to find a way to calm yourself down and stay poised."
Once the game got under way, Drew said he was able to tell himself it was just a game like any other. "Now that it's over and you're able to reflect, you just understand how important that was," he says. "What I was trying to reflect upon when I stood on the trophy stand with my son was just that journey and everything that we had gone through as a team, as a city, in order to get to that moment right there, and I really just tried to enjoy that moment."
After the game, Drew says he heard from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. "He's a very classy guy and a very good football player, so I appreciated that."
After the game, Drew brought his 13-month old son, Baylen, on the field. "I was telling him how much I loved him and what an inspiration he is for me and just kind of saying: 'We did it. We did it, little boy,'" Drew says. "I'm such a proud father, and just like any parent would say, you feel like you just have the most beautiful child in the world."
In 2005, Drew injured his shoulder, and some critics said his throw wasn't what it needed to be for him to come back to the game and succeed, but he showed them. "Every person in our position has at some point down the road, somebody's told you you can't do it, for whatever reason—you're not talented enough or whatever," he says. "Sure, you use that for motivation, but for me it's really about the people that did believe in me and gave me confidence to accomplish what we've been able to accomplish. Those are the people that I play for. ... I just want to make them proud."
Drew and his wife, Brittany, were college sweethearts and have been married for seven years, so game day was pretty stressful for her as well. Luckily, she had a distraction in Baylen. "He's so active; he's just like his dad. So he wants to walk, he wants to eat, he wants to watch the game," she says. "So that helps me calm down a lot because you're like: 'Oh gosh, I hope everything's okay, don't get hurt, don't throw an interception. ... Okay, [Baylen's] hungry, I'll be right back.' So it kind of puts things into perspective."
Brittany said Drew was amazing at handling the pressure of the big game. "I think that's probably when he succeeds and does his best is when he can compartmentalize and really focus," she says. "He just throws himself into studying film or game planning and doing what he needs to do."
Drew and Brittany say they didn't get to bed till about 3:30 a.m. on the night of the Super Bowl. When he was finally able to lie down, Drew says the first thing he said to Brittany was, "Did that really happen?"
Brittany says it was surreal for her too. "Standing there, you see it and see the confetti and you see everything happening, but you just don't think it's real,'" she says.
Drew says the city of New Orleans has been vibrating ever since the Saints' win. "The team plane went back and they said there was 40,000 people waiting for them at the airport, and then we had our Super Bowl parade on Tuesday," he says. "They said 800,000 to a million people came out for our parade. Now, there's only 400,000 people in the city, so I feel like people from around the country just identified with New Orleans and what just happened and the significance of it."
Now that the game is behind them, Drew and Brittany say they are going to take a little downtime. "Our anniversary was actually the day after the Super Bowl," Drew says. "What we're going to do is just have some good family time and maybe have about a two-week-long Valentine's Day/anniversary celebration with Baylen."