NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees wanted to retire a champion, hoping to earn a second Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints before riding into the sunset. Once Brees realized that wasn't a possibility, he decided to hang up his cleats despite his pursuit of another title. 

Leaving football wasn't easy for Brees, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback knew it was the right decision -- given his struggles during the 2020 season. 

"I only really felt good in one game, from the perspective of, I had all the tools in my toolbox," Brees said at TPC Louisiana, via the Saints website. "I had a lot of limitations throughout the season as to what I could and couldn't do, and I recognized that. And that's really hard for a competitor. That's really hard when you know what you should be able to do, and yet you can't because of various injuries, or things that are taking place with your body."

Brees' wife, Brittany, revealed in an Instagram post (via WWL TV's Andrew Doak) all the injuries her husband suffered in 2020. According to Brittany Brees, Drew Brees had a torn rotator cuff, torn fascia, a collapsed lung, and 11 broken ribs. Brees still completed 70.5% of his passes (his lowest since 2016) for 2,942 yards (lowest in a full season since 2003) and 24 touchdowns (lowest since 2017). The Saints still went 9-3 in Brees' 12 starts and won the NFC South, the seventh division title under Brees.  

The game Brees felt good during was a Week 4 win over the Detroit Lions, in which he completed 76% of his passes and threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns -- as the Saints scored 35 points (a season high until Alvin Kamara's six-touchdown game on Christmas). While Brees' play was on the decline, the multitude of injuries was the reason why.

Brees had no excuses. He just wanted to find ways to perform well and help the Saints win football games. 

"Some of those things are just kind of freak things -- tear a plantar fascia, you get damage in your shoulder, you get the broken ribs, the punctured lung," Brees said. "You get all this stuff that's going on -- this abdominal thing that I was dealing with for pretty much most of the season that, as a quarterback everything you do is rotation.

"And you can't rotate the way that you want, you all of a sudden begin to accommodate in ways and everything for you kind of narrows. Because it's like, 'Well I know I can't make that throw, I can't make that throw, I can't make that throw. So, what's now in my toolbox?' And it's harder to play the game that way. And yet, you've got to find a way still to get it done. And I felt like we did that, but it was difficult."