Terrell Fletcher always thought Drew Brees was destined for greatness, even if he cannot remember the completion that started the quarterback on a path to an NFL record.
Brees has now thrown for more yards than anyone else in NFL history having surpassed both Brett Favre and Peyton Manning on Monday when he led the New Orleans Saints to a 43-19 victory over the Washington Redskins.
The 39-year-old has amassed 72,103 yards and the first seven of those came against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 4, 2001 when Brees, then a rookie for the San Diego Chargers, came in to replace Doug Flutie and found running back Fletcher for a third-down completion that was short of moving the chains.
"I really don't remember the reception, per se," Fletcher told Omnisport.
"I just remember that we were behind by a lot in the game and the coaches made a quarterback switch. Drew led us back and we almost won the game.
"As a player you never think about who you catch passes from, or what throw it is, you just catch the balls that come your way."
No. 9 just became No. 1 all-time pic.twitter.com/fbk9uxaOFa— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 9, 2018
Brees had been drafted at the top of the second round seven months earlier but had not generated as much excitement around San Diego as future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, who the Chargers took fifth overall that year.
Yet from the first time he saw Brees practice, Fletcher realised the quarterback was special.
"I didn't have any unique impressions about Drew because there was so much hype around LT," he recalled.
"So while we felt like we stole Drew in the draft, most of our attention was in fact on LT.
"[But] it was easy to see during practice and in that first game that nothing was too big for him.
"He handled and managed every moment that came his way - that's a special quality that only certain people possess. He was special that way on and off the field."
Congratulations to Drew Brees on the all time passing record. Always a class act.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 9, 2018
Brees spent five years in San Diego before joining the Saints in 2006 as the Chargers transitioned to current quarterback Philip Rivers.
Under New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, Brees has enjoyed great success in Louisiana, leading the league in passing yardage in seven seasons.
He also guided the team to their lone Super Bowl win in 2010, less than five years after the city of New Orleans suffered major damage due to Hurricane Katrina.
"I'm just proud of Drew - the player and man," Fletcher added.
"What he's done to the city of New Orleans, and how he really stepped up during the post-Katrina years, he's a special guy and he deserves all the respect for what he's accomplishment."
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