Drew Brees' final season in the NFL was even more ravaged by injury than it seemed.
The former New Orleans Saints quarterback missed four games in 2020 due to a collapsed lung and 11 rib fractures. But Brees revealed Wednesday at a charity golf tournament that he was playing at less than 100% for nearly the entire campaign.
"I'll be perfectly honest with you. I only felt really good in one game (Week 4 at the Detroit Lions), from the perspective I had all the tools in my toolbox," Brees said, according to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic. "I had a lot of limitations throughout the season as to what I could and couldn't do. And I recognized that. And that's really hard for a competitor.
"It's really hard to know what you should be able to do, and yet you can't, because of various injuries or things that are taking place with your body. Some of those things are just kind of freak things. You tear a plantar fascia. You get damage in your shoulder. You get broken ribs, right? A punctured lung."
Brees, who retired in mid-March after 20 seasons, added that he was particularly limited throughout the year by an abdominal issue.
"As a QB everything you do is rotation. And when you can't rotate the way that you want, you all of a sudden begin to accommodate," he said. "Everything for you kind of narrows. I can't make that throw. I can't make that throw. I can't make that throw. So what's now in my toolbox? It's harder to play the game that way. It is. And yet you've got to find a way to still get it done. And I felt like we did that. But it was difficult."
The 42-year-old said following his retirement announcement that he was "sure" he could continue to play but wanted to walk away at the right time for his family.
Despite his limitations, Brees still put up solid numbers last season. He won nine of 12 starts while throwing for 2,942 yards and 24 touchdowns against six interceptions.