Nick Saban needs to quit blaming Dolphins’ doctors for Drew Brees

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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.

66 responses to “Nick Saban needs to quit blaming Dolphins’ doctors for Drew Brees

  1. The deck is stacked in his favor at Bama and he has taken full advantage, but the hole in Saban’s resume is his failure in the NFL. Hard to gauge his true greatness as a coach.

  2. He’s salty and he should be. That was the dumbest decision in the franchise’s history and they still haven’t recovered.

  3. Nick Saban is one of the greatest football coaches of all time. I don’t see a reason that you need to have an opinion on a player that his team passed on 15 years ago. Both parties did just fine.

  4. Brees suffered dislocated shoulder through the bottom of the joint, a 360 degree tear of his labrum, a 50% tear of his rotator cuff. All to his throwing arm. Dr. James Andrews calls it the most remarkable comeback he’s ever treated. I don’t think the Dolphins doctors were the only ones that would have had cautioned Saban. Many thought Brees would never play again. Its unlikely that the doctors were “iffy” and Saban just balked. What’s more likely is the doctors were adamant that signing Brees was a huge waste of money.

  5. Who’s to say Drew Brees would have thrived under Saban? College and pro football are almost like two completely different sports. Saban is a good recruiter, so he can dominate college ball. There’s no recruiting in the NFL. You have a draft, and the best teams pick last.

  6. Thank you Mike, finally someone called him out. He missed, blew it big time, and for years he has pointed the finger elsewhere.

  7. “Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan”……eh Nicky?

  8. I think for the first time ever I agree with every word you wrote. You nailed this one. There’s a reason he’s known as “Satan” down in Miami.

  9. Its not easy being a Dolphins fans these past 20 years however Saban was the best HC here since Jimmy Johnson.

  10. And if college football wasn’t so ridiculously rigged for 5-6 programs to continually repeat then his poor leadership and coaching would be on full display.

  11. Saban’s point is simple and accurate… that doctors sometimes get it totally wrong, and he’s glad someone gave Moses a chance.

  12. Nick Saban had the final say on everything so letting Drew Brees go was on him.
    It was pretty clear at the time that he felt he was way in over his head and was ready to return to the college ranks

  13. I’m a Saints fan and I wanted Culpepper too. Brees could not throw a pass when he joined the Saints.

  14. Saban figured that maybe enough time had passed by to where he could take a stab at rewriting history… He figured wrong.

  15. Nick Saban likes to think that if he had Drew Brees he would have won a Super Bowl and returned the Dolphins to greatness.
    More likely,Drew Brees would have never developed under Saban.
    Saban drafted terribly,doing things like taking a running back number two overall when Aaron Rodgers is available and you don’t have a franchise quarterback. Saban is great when the school name is a draw and he can show up at a kids house to recruit. He’s a great defensive coach but evaluating talent and using a draft and free agency on a level playing field against other organizations was far too much for Nick. He got beaten badly at both. Overpaid for free agents and couldn’t figure out how to make the most out of early picks in the draft. He ran scared back to college because his legacy was taking a major hit without the advantage of big name school recruiting.

  16. I love Saban, but he does need to stop – it’s been fifteen years and he keeps breathing life into this. “We did what was best for the team” should have been the one and only response.

  17. When is the last time anybody anywhere has actually heard Nick Saban OWN ANYTHING? (just asking)

  18. Lil Nicky still mad he was a failure in the big boy league. He acts like he still didn’t go after Brees. He offered him a decent contract but Saints put their money where their mouth was and guaranteed a big portion of it and Saban wouldn’t match it. He just uses the doctors as an excuse because he looks stupid now and uses it as the main reason he washed out in the NFL…..

  19. Here’s another one Saban can’t pass the buck on…. his first ever draft pick as a head coach was a 50/50 decision between Aaron Rodgers and Ronnie Brown. $100 says he blames Ricky Williams and weed for this pick…. but he chose Ronnie Brown and Rodgers slipped 20 more picks in that draft. If he picked Rodgers, the Drew Brees thing would have never been an issue / excuse the rest of his life.

  20. It’s a TRAP! says:
    May 7, 2021 at 12:55 pm
    Blame the gm

    ________________________

    He was the defacto GM.. Randy Mueller was there as his puppet

  21. As a Pats fan, all I can say is “Thanks Nick!”. I’m sure at least a few of our Super Bowls would have gone to Miami if it wasn’t for Saban’s decision-making.

  22. jeremy3186 says:
    May 7, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Here’s another one Saban can’t pass the buck on…. his first ever draft pick as a head coach was a 50/50 decision between Aaron Rodgers and Ronnie Brown. $100 says he blames Ricky Williams and weed for this pick…. but he chose Ronnie Brown and Rodgers slipped 20 more picks in that draft. If he picked Rodgers, the Drew Brees thing would have never been an issue / excuse the rest of his life.

    ——————————————————————————

    Good points, but Aaron Rodgers didn’t get picked 3rd, he went 24th. Lots of teams passed on him. Ronnie Brown was a bad pick in retrospect, even though he did make a Pro Bowl. Taking a RB at #2 is unfathomable today, but in that draft there were 3 RB’s taken in the top 5 (Cederick Benson and Caddilac Williams).

  23. WOW!!! A friend was friendly with a Dolphins lawyer at the time. We were together at Christmas that year arguing over Drew vs. Daunte. My position with her was take the chance on Drew. She said you never take a QB with a shoulder injury like I was an idiot fan. I told her in response well you never take one that can’t read defenses either. And, I have to say in reading some of the comments maybe Saban would have eventually worked out, but the Dolphins have not had a real head coach since Shula. Jimmy Johnson blew two chances at the AFC championship games forcing the run and not checking his ego by letting Marino do what Marino does. Shula played to the strengths of his talent. He didn’t force his talent to be something they weren’t like Jimmy. Afterall who could be standing in the endzone and complete a 4th and 17 and you never doubted he wouldn’t? And, the next year he allowed the entire team to cave while Jay tried everything possible to win the game by himself. They misjudged his talent big time. After Joe Robbie that’s been the Dolphins — poor talent decisions. Now it’s Flores and to this no nothing fan he looks very promising and he might just be the first coach since Shula to earn the title of Miami Dolphins head coach.

  24. I’m Nick Saban all I need to succeed is a college with the most to spend the best facilities and the best talent available wanting to go there. That’s all I need. It will be difficult but I’ll turn the best into the best.

  25. Nick Saban is a great college coach who would do well not to keep bringing up his short NFL career.

    Excuses, justified or not, always come off poorly.

  26. If Brees had been signed, I think his career would have been good, not great. Miami has been inept in the front office and with head coaches for YEARS. I don’t think Brees would have the same caliber weapons around him in Miami

  27. hailtothe says:
    May 7, 2021 at 1:23 pm
    jeremy3186 says:
    May 7, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Here’s another one Saban can’t pass the buck on…. his first ever draft pick as a head coach was a 50/50 decision between Aaron Rodgers and Ronnie Brown. $100 says he blames Ricky Williams and weed for this pick…. but he chose Ronnie Brown and Rodgers slipped 20 more picks in that draft. If he picked Rodgers, the Drew Brees thing would have never been an issue / excuse the rest of his life.

    ——————————————————————————

    Good points, but Aaron Rodgers didn’t get picked 3rd, he went 24th. Lots of teams passed on him. Ronnie Brown was a bad pick in retrospect, even though he did make a Pro Bowl. Taking a RB at #2 is unfathomable today, but in that draft there were 3 RB’s taken in the top 5 (Cederick Benson and Caddilac Williams).

    _________________________

    I’m a Dolphins fan who watched that draft very closely.. it was the first time we had a pick that high in a generation. I bluntly don’t care what other teams though of Rodgers… the Dolphins were 50/50 on him and Brown. They went brown. Please don’t try to color coat it… this is what happened.

  28. PFTSelectiveCensorship says:
    May 7, 2021 at 1:55 pm
    If Brees had been signed, I think his career would have been good, not great. Miami has been inept in the front office and with head coaches for YEARS. I don’t think Brees would have the same caliber weapons around him in Miami

    —————————–

    Would you like to compare the 2006 Dolphins to the 2006 Saints? lol…. the Dolphins had 4-5 starting pro bowlers on defense… an emerging TE and WR and a returning Ricky Williams. The Saints had Reggie Bush…. the Dolphins had much, much more fertile ground to grow on (that yes, they completely screwed up)

  29. We will never know what would have happened if he stayed with Miami right? Im guessing just an okay career.

  30. At the time it wasn’t crazy to think Culpepper would have the better career. He was a bigger and stronger athlete that put up huge numbers in Minnesota. Brees had looked good but not spectacular in San Diego and had the injury. It was a big mistake not taking Brees but it wasn’t that egregious at the time. I’m also not sure Brees has the career he had if ends up in Miami instead of New Orleans

  31. Revisionist history here we go. At that time it was a total toss up on whether Miami should take Culpepper or Brees. Both had injury on concerns and Culpepper had a couple of great years under belt. But since Brees turned out to be great, it was the dumbest decision ever. But actually it wasn’t. Just like early in their careers Manning was widely regarded as better than Brady even after Brady won his first 3 SBs. But now people act as if Brady was the greatest QB ever right out the gate.

  32. Brees, despite that horrific injury to his Passing shoulder, DID NOT MISS A REGULAR SEASON GAME in 2006 (also Sean Paytons’ 1st season in New Orleans), and the Saints went to the NFC Title game in Chicago.
    THings happen for a reason.
    Payton and Brees were the right combination for each other, the Saints, and the city of New Orleans.

  33. It wasn’t just “a doctor” that gave his approval of Drew Brees. It was Dr James Andrews from Birmingham AL. That’s why the Saints trusted the diagnosis. Andrews is also the sideline Orthopedic for Alabama ,Auburn,and the WFT….or at least he has been. He’s the best !

  34. I’m sure most Dolphins fans regret not having Drew Brees on their team. I’m also sure most Dolphins fans regret ever having Nick Saban as their Head Coach.

  35. I am not so sure on your opinion on Saban and if he made the mistake. It’s very easy after the fact as an armchair QB or coach.
    But him listening directly to the doctor may of been the ownerships decision.
    More to this story I’m sure

  36. Saban is the definition of the word napoleon complex. He spends more time in a tanning booth and dyeing his hair then the majority of most women. I guess since he is the same size as a woman, he takes it literally.

  37. If Saban could go back and sign Brees despite the odds and have Brees be his QB then Drew Brees doesnt get paired with Sean Payton and he hands the ball off 30-40 times a game. There is no reason to believe Brees career wouldve been even close to what it was and maybe Saban wouldve had a chance at success in Miami. But knowing what motivated Nick he probably wouldve left for college ball anyway. He just wasnt happy in the NFL but he didnt have to do Miami dirty the way he did.

  38. The doctor who passed Brees to play was not Dr. Andrews, it was the Saints team physician Dr. Tim Finney. Andrews of course did the surgery, but even he called Brees’ comeback remarkable and unbelievable. Andrews had warned Brees that most players wouldn’t be able to come back from an injury like that, but Brees did it. Dr. Finney was pretty nervous when he submitted his report. It’s notable that only 2 of 32 teams in the league showed any interest in Brees. Dolphins failed him, Saints didn’t, the rest is history.

  39. Looks like Nick Saban won’t be sending you any pepperoni rolls anytime soon, Florio!

  40. Saban was new to the NFL and depended on team physicians for guidance. They made the wrong call, he went with the information they gave him. Clearly a bad call in retrospect, but he went with the information he had at the time. You say Saban needs to quit blaming Dolphins doctors? He’s right. You need to quit blaming him.

  41. Who cares?
    I can’t believe this many people have passionate opinions about anything Nick Saban said. Let alone, this irrelevant nonsense.

  42. This is Nick’s way of saying, “I was terrible in the pro game. Urban Meyer is going to show that he’s better than I am. If I was there today, I’d be just as terrible. I belong in college”

  43. DON’T FORGET:

    HE DRAFTED RONNIE BROWN OVER AARON RODGERS!!!!!!

    So, technically, he passed on Brees AND Rodgers for Culpepper!

    LOL

  44. Can NEVER please EVERYONE no matter how good you are. Hindsight is always 20/20. Crazy how these two stories unfolded that led to 2 GOATS.

    The Chargers elected to start Drew Brees week 17 vs Broncos in a meaningless game (out of playoff contention) and suffered major injury. This is like similar to Tom Brady when Drew Bledsoe got injured sacrificing meaningless inches to get BLASTED near the sidelines against the Jets.

  45. So now the coach should make medical decisions? This take is laughable Saban did what any coach would do listen to the doctors what he was saying is they make mistakes too.

  46. pab08 says:
    May 7, 2021 at 7:12 pm
    Who cares?
    I can’t believe this many people have passionate opinions about anything Nick Saban said. Let alone, this irrelevant nonsense.

    ________________________________

    Saban lied to the Dolphins and set the Franchise back for 15 years and counting. Reeling from his resignation out of no where.. they hired a coach highly unqualified (Cam Cameron) and let a guy run the front office (Randy Mueller) that had only been brought in to rubber stamp Saban moves. 2007 became the worst season in Dolphins history and they have been trying to recover from it ever since. We call him “Satan” down here.

  47. Saban is a first class jerk. Search “Nick Saban Jeno James”. Heath Evans tells a story how Nick Saban was walking in a Dolphins facility hallway and stepped over his best player who was lying down convulsing from heat stroke as trainers and medical staff were waiting for paramedics to arrive at the scene. He didn’t acknowledge or care that one of his players was in a life threatening situation, he just kept on walking. Saban takes the term “egomaniac” to another level. His “gate keeper” act only works in college, not in the pros where grown men are making more money than him. There are other incidents where he was rude to Bill Muschamp’s mother over a fax and when Daunte Culpepper went after him before practice because Saban never told him he was being benched for Joey Harrington.

  48. It’s easy to bash Saban, but, as a few pointed out, part of what made Brees so phenomenally successful was his partnership with Sean Payton. Saban’ s strength (like his mentor Belichick, through Parcells) was always defense. Payton, though tutored by Parcells, is a gifted mastermind on offense. The Saints playbook exploded from grade-school level in Brees first year (he could barely throw at the beginning) to the execution by Brees of advanced calculus designed by Payton

  49. bionicbillwalsh says:
    May 7, 2021 at 11:48 am
    Nick Saban is one of the greatest football coaches of all time. I don’t see a reason that you need to have an opinion on a player that his team passed on 15 years ago. Both parties did just fine.

    ——-

    There’s 3 parties here: Saban, Brees, and the Miami Dolphins. I think the third one would like to debate you a bit on how fine they are with that decision.

  50. Brees would have been a lifetime Charger had he not been injured in the last game of 2005 by a cheap shot hit by Denver DT on a fumble . Rivers was going to be traded and Brees contract extended but that did not happen, unfortunately.

  51. Saban is and was always a jerk. I thought there was a story of him stepping over an injured Dolphins player, to go yell at another player.

  52. Dude is a hot head. He will be up by 30 and still blowing gaskets…chill.

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