METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he came back "energized" from an emotional two-day trip to his home state of Texas, where he attended the funeral services of his grandfather and personal "hero" Ray Akins.
Brees said he brought what he needed to prepare for the Saints' playoff opener on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers during his trip, which spanned Monday and Tuesday. But he also spent plenty of time reflecting with family and friends on the life of his grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and longtime high school football coach.
"You know, it was obviously very sad ... but I really came back energized from the last two days, just being with my family and with friends and with guys that played for my grandfather, and just listening to the stories again," Brees said. "It just re-emphasized to me what a great man he was and what a wise man he was and just a true American hero. And not only that, but he's my hero. I learned so much from him, and again, it re-emphasizes all the things that are important in life and the values and morals.
"So it was a powerful few days, obviously very sad at times, but also incredible just to remember his life and legacy."
Brees, who turns 39 in less than two weeks, is back in the playoffs for the first time in four years. But he insisted he isn't going into the postseason with any greater sense of urgency than he has had in the past.
"I just approach every game the same way. I prepare like every game could be my last or it's a playoff game or I've got something to prove and I've got an edge," said Brees, who in 2017 threw for his lowest yardage and touchdown totals in 12 years with the Saints, while setting the NFL record with a completion percentage of 72.0. "So it's not like, 'OK, the playoffs are here, so it's time to ramp it up, things are a little more important.' It's always important. So for me the preparation is no different."