Drew Brees' streak defines him

Since his arrival in New Orleans in 2006, Drew Brees has been piling up huge numbers.

He’s set records and won a lot of games -- and a Super Bowl. But I don’t think those records or even the Super Bowl are what define Brees.

I think the record he set Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers will be what defines Brees down the road. Brees threw a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter.

That score gave Brees a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, dating back to 2009. He entered the game tied with Johnny Unitas, who established the previous record (47) from 1956 to 1960.

Breaking any record set by Unitas is monumental, but this one is particularly big.

If you’re throwing a touchdown pass in 48 straight games, you’re consistently excellent. That’s why I’m more impressed with this streak than anything else Brees has done. He broke a record that lasted for 52 years.

What he’s showing is sustained greatness. When he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day, people will look at Brees’ streak, which could end up going on much longer, as his trademark.

I compare Brees’ streak a little to Cal Ripken’s string of consecutive games played. Fans may not know his career batting average, but even the most casual fan knows that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record.

Break a record held by a Unitas or a Gehrig and that’s going to be one of the things people will remember most about you.

The record also brought some joy to what, up until this point, has been a joyless season for the Saints. It came with suspended coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis in attendance. Although they're not supposed to have contact with the Saints during their suspensions, the NFL gave the trio permission to attend after Brees requested.

For at least a brief moment, all was well with the Saints again.