METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees acknowledged Thursday he can't just rely on that massive chip on his shoulder for motivation anymore.
He is no longer the young quarterback who was barely recruited in high school, benched early in his NFL career and doubted after a major 2005 shoulder injury. Now Brees is a Super Bowl winner and a shoo-in Hall of Famer who is set to become the NFL's all-time passing yardage leader by October.
But the 39-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback insisted he is still plenty driven when asked what keeps fueling him in his 18th NFL training camp.
"There's still a lot of things I want to accomplish," Brees said. "And I understand the amount of work and effort it's gonna take to accomplish those things. And I understand that I don't have a whole lot of time left.
"So I'm gonna stay in the moment and I'm gonna enjoy every second of it, because I know when it's over, it's over. You know, there's no coming back. And I want to be able to look back and say, 'Man, I gave it everything I possibly could. I enjoyed every second of it. And now I can move on to the next chapter of my life and be at peace with that.'
"But there's still a lot of things to accomplish. And I know in order to accomplish those things -- and they're lofty goals -- you've gotta work. You've gotta work and have high expectations and sacrifice and do even more now than maybe I ever have."
Brees has been busier than ever off the field in recent years, with a growing business portfolio, a family of four children and a startup flag football league in which he serves as both a co-founder and coach.
But he said that hasn't taken away from his day job -- it has just forced him to be more efficient.
"There's a balance, there's a balance," Brees said. "My family time is a great equalizer for me. I have to be able to leave this facility and be with my family, be with my wife, be with my kids. They help balance me out.
"That enjoyment in my life helps me be a better football player. And it also forces me when I'm here to be as efficient as possible. Because I know, man, my time can't run over. I can't just say, 'Oh, I'll stay an extra hour.' No, I have to get my work done by this time so I can get home to read my kids a book before they go to bed, or else I miss that opportunity. And then that eats at me, and then it throws off my balance. So it all works together."
Brees has insisted in the past that he believes he can keep playing at a high level until he is 45 years old -- though he has never specified when he wants to retire or what is left on his must-do list.
Brees needs 1,496 yards to break Peyton Manning's NFL record of 71,940 -- which should take him five or six games to accomplish. He needs 52 touchdown passes to break Manning's NFL record of 539 -- which should take at least two more seasons. And he needs to play six more seasons to pass Steve DeBerg as the oldest quarterback ever to start a game (unless Tom Brady sets a record by that point).
But another Super Bowl win has to rank above all of those accomplishments for Brees. And that has become a realistic possibility again, now that the Saints have reloaded their roster around him with two great draft classes and several big hits in free agency.
The Saints might be as balanced in the passing game, run game and defense as they have ever been in the Brees-Sean Payton era. That's why Brees posted the fewest attempts, yards, touchdowns and interceptions of his 12-year tenure in New Orleans last season -- while setting the NFL record for completion percentage at 72.0.
"Those are all good things. Those are all great things," Brees said of the Saints' success in the run game and on defense. "From game to game, sometimes I think those responsibilities or what you're being asked to do can be modified a little bit. There's gonna be games where I throw it 45 times, there's gonna be games where I probably throw it in the mid-20s. But as long as we're winning, as long as we're playing efficient Saints-caliber football, then it doesn't matter.
"I think we've proven that we can win in a lot of ways. ... As long as we're winning, everyone wins."