By Alex Restrepo
The first time was in week eight of the 2008 regular season in a game that was played at Wembley Stadium in London, which the Saints won 37-32.
Brees was a second round draft pick of the Chargers in 2001 (32nd overall) and played for San Diego from 2001-05, serving as their starter his last four seasons. Brees was selected to the Pro Bowl for his banner 2004 campaign.
The Chargers traded for QB Phillip Rivers in the 2004 NFL Draft. After playing together for two seasons, Rivers took over the starting job in 2006 and Brees signed with the Saints.
Six years later, Brees and Rivers keep in touch and have a mutual respect for one another. Brees said although the perception was the two feuded over wanting the starting role in San Diego, the Saints quarterback says that was never the case.
“You know what’s funny is I like Philip a lot as a person, as a quarterback, as a family guy, off the field, everything,” said Brees. “It’s interesting because when he got drafted to the Chargers with the fourth pick of the 2004 Draft, really it was – hey, they’re drafting him to be the quarterback of the future to take my job. I think people wanted us to be at odds. They wanted us to be adversaries. They wanted this to be a contentious relationship, and it wasn’t.”
Rivers echoed Brees’ sentiment.
“We’re both competitive, but at the same time, very respectful of one another,” said Rivers. “There’s no doubt we were going to compete like crazy and that I wanted to be the starter my rookie year and there was no doubt in his mind where he said he wasn’t letting me have it. But at the same time, I was one of the first to high-five him after a touchdown pass those first two years. I pulled for him and I tried to help him as much as I could those first two years and I’d like to think I helped him in some ways, whether it was preparation or something on tape and certainly he was helpful to me those two years and then as we’ve gone our separate ways.”
Brees compared his relationship with Rivers in San Diego to his relationship with Saints backup QB Chase Daniel.
Daniel has backed up Brees for the past four seasons. The two are close friends and even though they are competing for the same spot, at the end of the day they both are accomplishing the same thing – helping the team.
“If Chase Daniel’s not trying to take my job, then he’s not doing his job,” said Brees. “But does that mean I’m not going to encourage him and try to help him be the best that he can be? You can bet we compete at everything.”
Brees said he and Rivers usually talk during the season, even compare notes if they have similar opponents.
Brees admitted he can’t just say it’s any other game when he faces Rivers and his former team Sunday but it won’t be what motivates him. His motivation for Sunday is at the same level and is fueled by the same thing every week – his desire to compete and win.
“You know you’re going up against another top-tier quarterback and just like last week, you know that you’re going up against Aaron Rodgers and that offense,” said Brees. “You know what they’re capable of, so you know that you just have to bring your absolute best, not to say you’re not trying to do that every week, but you’re competitive.”
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