Fifteen years after the fact, former Dolphins coach Nick Saban remains miffed that Dolphins doctors deemed the shoulder of quarterback Drew Brees unfit for NFL competition. (We probably could have ended that sentence after the word “miffed.”) Those same doctors nevertheless embraced the prospect of sending a second-round pick to the Vikings for quarterback Daunte Culpepper and his wrecked knee.
“Don’t forget, when I was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, doctors failed Drew Brees on a physical,” Saban recently told reporters regarding the fact that Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses went undrafted due to a knee injury. “From that time on [Brees] made about 14 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl, passed for I don’t know how many thousands of yards. So I guess they make mistakes, too.”
So let’s make sure we understand this. Saban, a micromanaging control freak, wanted Drew Brees. But team doctors weren’t comfortable with his surgically-repaired shoulder. And Saban just shrugged, unwrapped another Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie, and said, “Let’s give up a second-round pick for a mobile quarterback with three torn ligaments in the most important joint on his body.”
A football coach with full control over football operations controls everything. If he has any doubts about the medical opinions he has received, if he has any inkling that his own doctors are being unreasonably cautious, he can get a second opinion. Or a third one. He can keep hiring doctors to comment on whether a given player can play until the coach finds someone who will say what he wants.
Indeed, Saints coach Sean Payton found a doctor who passed Brees on a physical.
Saban can (and does) put all the blame on doctors he supervised and employed. The truth is that, if Saban wanted Drew Brees, Saban would have had Drew Brees. At the end of the day, Saban made one of the all-time personnel whiffs in league history.
That’s not on the doctors or anyone else. That’s on him.