Since he first arrived in the Big Easy in 2006, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been the marquee sports star down on the bayou. But with the 12-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLIV MVP likely entering his final season at the age of 40, he’s ready to pass along responsibility as the face of the New Orleans sports scene to someone else, albeit someone who plays a different sport.
In wake of the New Orleans Pelicans selecting Zion Williamson with the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Brees has gifted Williamson a signed jersey of his. The jersey was framed and left for Williamson in his hotel room when he arrived in New Orleans for the first time. Brees wrote on the jersey, “Passing the torch to you!” and also sent a card that read: “Zion, welcome to the family. Let’s dance.”
The surprise, a video of which was tweeted out by the Pelicans, caught the soon-to-be 19-year-old Williamson off guard. In the video, Williamson said, “Wow, passing the torch. Am I ready to take that on?” The teenage sensation also admitted that it was his first-ever jersey from a professional athlete, but pledged that it would be the first of many he’s hoping to collect.
Despite having stars like Chris Paul and Anthony Davis on the team, the Pelicans franchise has won just two playoff series since moving to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002. The hope is that Williamson, who is considered a generational talent, can help lead the franchise’s resurgence and ultimately help them win a championship. If he lives up to all the hype, there’s little doubt that Williamson will become the best player the Pelicans have ever had and among the best in the league.
Meanwhile, Brees is still going strong in the twilight of his career. He’s had some of his best seasons the last two years while leading New Orleans to back-to-back division titles. Alas, Brees is still hoping to lead the Saints to their second-ever Super Bowl before he retires. If 2019 is indeed his last season, Brees will have one more chance to bring another championship to New Orleans before officially passing the city’s torch to Williamson.