While the matchup was largely billed as two future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks squaring off for a shot to appear in the NFC Conference Championship, there was always an underlying speculation that retirement could be on the table for one of them. Drew Brees entered the NFC Divisional Round with many wondering if this season would be his last, and it reportedly will, per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, but the 42-year-old has not made a formal decision following the 30-20 loss at the hands of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brees will instead sit with it a while.
"Well, I'll answer this question one time, and that is that I'm going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things, just like I did last year, and make a decision," he told media after the game, via the team's website.
It sure does feel like he's saying goodbye though, albeit nonverbally -- having looked back at the field one more time as he went into the tunnel toward the locker room and reappearing later on the field to have some heartfelt moments with Brady. The two were seen enjoying each other's company for what might be the last time as players, not long after Brady appeared to have some sincere words for Brees when they met to shake hands after the clock hit all zeroes on Brees season (career?).
Brady even threw a touchdown pass to one of Brees' sons.
As far as looking back at the field before walking into the locker room, Brees downplayed it.
"Listen, I always soak in the moment," he said. "And I'm looking up at my family and blowing kisses to my wife and daughter and fist bumping my boys. Yeah, I mean, they've become so much a part of this as my kids have gotten older, and they're so invested in this as well. And so it makes the moment special to be able to share it all together."
The former Super Bowl MVP and 13-time Pro Bowler couldn't find his bearings against Todd Bowles' defense, failing to land the ever-elusive three-game single season sweep en route to throwing three interceptions and only one touchdown with just 134 passing yards and a 38.1 passer rating. Brady made the Saints pay for those mistakes with multiple TDs and ultimately a win that stamped their ticket to a matchup with another NFL legend in Aaron Rodgers -- who's awaiting him in Green Bay. So while Brady's legend has a chance to expand more, and likely into 2021 as well, all eyes are on Brees to find out if he'll call it a career.
And if he does, he has the respect of Brady and many, many more.