In early 2006, two NFL teams sought to sign star quarterback Drew Brees. Initially, Brees figured he’d choose the Miami Dolphins over the New Orleans Saints.
Miami offered an attractive city, a great climate and a celebrity head coach (Nick Saban). It was also coming off a winning season in 2005 while the Saints had struggled.
But after visiting both cities and meeting with team executives, Brees began to rethink the situation.
During his trip to New Orleans, Brees and his wife appreciated how the team’s top brass embraced them as family. Saints’ executives didn’t discuss business; instead, they established personal bonds with the quarterback and shared tips for raising a family in the area.
When Brees met with Saban, by contrast, the famous coach lacked warmth. Brees recalled Saban’s “hard-nosed, stoic” attitude and tendency to explain things rather than ask questions and listen.
What’s worse, Brees spent much of his Miami visit undergoing extensive physical exams by a team of doctors.
Brees concluded that the Saints had conveyed more warmth, encouragement and confidence while the Dolphins seemed to be looking for medical defects that they could use as leverage during contract negotiations.
Brees and his wife also wanted to help lift a downtrodden city up from a traumatic experience after Katrina. Coupled with the welcoming way the Saints treated him, Brees chose New Orleans.
Three years later, he led them to a Super Bowl championship.
— Adapted from Coming Back Stronger, Drew Brees and Chris Fabry, Tyndale.