It's Time to Cut Aaron Brooks a (Small) Break
Look, before I go any further, let me strongly say that I am IN NO WAY an Aaron Brooks fan. Nobody is happier than me to see the guy gone. His time was over. We stayed with him a couple of years too long. But come on. Give me a freakin' break. People are celebrating a little too much that this guy is gone. I think that a lot of us are being completely unfair to the guy. People are acting like this guy was a total disaster (and it was at the end). I also think that a lot of people are blaming him for things that weren't completely his fault.
With that being said, I would like to point out some things that we need to remember about Aaron Brooks while we stamp the dirt down on his grave:
1. Aaron Brooks is NOT EVEN CLOSE to being the worst starting quarterback in Saints history: I guess it's time for me to pull out the names. Gary Cuozzo, Bobby Douglass, a washed-up Ken Stabler, Richard Todd, John Fourcade, Steve Walsh, Doug Nussmeier, Heath Shuler, Danny Wuerffel, any quarterback named Billy Joe. You know I can go on. In fact, no matter how much you try to trash him, Aaron Brooks will go down as the third-best quarterback in Saints history, behind Archie Manning and Bobby Hebert. And if you want to be technical, Aaron Brooks had winning seasons and a playoff game. Archie Manning did not. And, yes, Archie is my all-time favorite Saint--so please don't give me a history lesson.
2. Aaron Brooks almost single-handedly saved the 2000 season: Who didn't think the 2000 season was over when Jeff Blake went down? Brooks came into the first start and beat the Super Bowl Champion Rams on the road. He then pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in Saints history, coming back from 10 in the last 5 minutes in San Francisco. Without those wins, the Saints do not win the division.
3. Aaron Brooks should not get the bulk of the blame for Jake Delhomme's departure: You can say he should have voluntarily sat down at the end of the 2002 season because of his injury, and let Jake get us in the playoffs. But I don't. He's a competitor. I don't think he would have volunteered to play if he didn't think he was healthy. But it shouldn't have been his decision. If Jim Haslett would have any balls whatsoever, he would have told Brooks he was out. Haslett could have done it at any point in that Panthers game (when it was clear that Brooks was killing us), but he was a gutless turd. Basically Haslett and the front office never took Jake seriously. They never thought he was any more than an average backup. That's not Aaron's fault.
4. Aaron Brooks did one thing no quarterback has done before or since in Saints history: He won a playoff game. Because of Aaron Brooks, nobody can tell us "The Saints are the only team in NFL history to NEVER win a playoff game." And Aaron Brooks deserves the credit for winning that game. Well, future Saint Az Hakim deserves some credit too. But Brooks was money in that game. Look it up if you forgot. He came up huge in the biggest game of his career. Too bad he has regressed since then.
Now, I know what you're saying. And I could make a list of all the terrible things he did. The late-season collapses, the indifference, the stupid decisions, the misleading statistics (which were usually padded during blowout losses), and the infamous "backward pass" to Wayne Gandy. Just don't act like this guy was Heath Shuler, okay?