Sam Darnold
Adam Hunger/AP Photo

Drew Brees offered his praises to New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, and both expressed their condolences to the retiring Andrew Luck.

While chaos erupted in Indianapolis, life went on at MetLife Stadium.

The New York Jets and New Orleans Saints went about their business. All was well, business flowed as usual, as typical preseason fare played out on the field.

Sam Darnold and Drew Brees, the combatants’ respective starting quarterbacks, did their scoring duty, throwing a touchdown each in what became a 28-13 victory for the Saints.

In victory, Brees (4-of-6, 68 yards) offered words of praise for his young opponent.

“I’ve been impressed with just from what I’ve seen and the way he’s handled everything,” Brees said. “It’s a tough position, a lot of hype and expectations, and I think he’s handled it well.”

Brees would perhaps know Darnold’s current predicament better than anyone. He was anointed a savior by two different franchises in a storied career. When the artists formerly known as the San Diego Chargers opted to go a different direction, Brees descended upon New Orleans in 2006.

The Saints were almost the Bayou’s answer to the Jets: a downtrodden, unlucky franchise whose legacy was defined by a larger-than-life quarterback from the 1970s—Archie Manning. New Orleans football had partaken in just six playoff games upon Brees’ arrival. Four years later, Brees brought a city still reeling from unspeakable natural disasters to its feet with a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

Brees’ comments on Darnold (8-of-13, 97 yards) hint that he sees a bit of himself in the USC product.

“He seems like an extremely sharp kid who has a really bright future,” Brees said. “He’s only going to continue to improve and get better and better as they build this team around him…he’s got a ton of upside and a ton of opportunity.”

The praise Brees bestowed on a young quarterback came while another rising thrower endured a painful goodbye. In the midst of Saturday’s preseason action, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would announce his retirement before the weekend let out. Luck’s Colts were taking on the Chicago Bears at the time of Schefter’s reveal.

According to Schefter, Luck was “mentally worn down”, possibly due to a series of injuries that plagued the latter stages of his short career.

Brees, 40, sympathized with Luck in Saturday’s aftermath. The Super Bowl MVP and champion even hinted that the innumerable toll of hits an NFL quarterback takes on a yearly basis had him considering his own mortality.

“This game is a grind. It takes a physical toll and it takes a mental toll and an emotional one,” he said. “I don’t think any of us take that lightly. None of us take that for granted. We understand that’s part of what we sign up for. It still doesn’t take away from the fact it can absolutely be a grind at times.”

According to Brees, the New Orleans sideline caught wind of the breaking news and were predictably shocked. Upon further learning that Indianapolis fans booed Luck as he left the Lucas Oil Stadium field, he stated his intent to learn all the facts behind the circumstances. He did, however, promise to check in with the newly retired Colt.

“Andrew’s a friend. I’ll exchange text messages with him,” Brees said. “I’ll be reaching out to check on him.”

Names from both sides acknowledged Luck’s unexpected departure from football.

“Obviously, a guy like him, cerebral guy like that, he’s definitely thought about it for a while now,” Darnold declared. “It (stinks) for the NFL to lose such a talented player and a guy who won Comeback Player of the Year last year.”

Heading into a matchup against Luck’s Colts last season, Darnold told the Associated Press that it was “really cool” to watch the fellow Pac-12 alum play. Now, like many, Darnold only laments what might have been for Luck.

“We were all looking forward to seeing him play great football this year. They shored up that offensive line and they played great as well.

“It’s a bummer for the NFL and the whole league.”

Jets safety Jamal Adams took to social media in sticking up for Luck, asking fans to respect the quarterback’s decision. Adams also playfully referenced Luck’s habit of using a so-called “flip phone” in an era where the smartphone dominates the social landscape.

The Jets wrap up their preseason proceedings on Thursday at home against the Philadelphia Eagles (7:00 p.m. ET, WCBS).

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