- Steve Etheridge, ESPN Playbook
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Drew Brees would like some more money. The Saints would like to give him some more money, but not as much as he wants. So there's a bit of a standoff, and one fan is looking to put the kibosh on it ASAP.
Tony LeMon, who has been attending Saints games for 45 years, started the website FansStepUp.com to raise money for Brees to pay him a bonus for his service to the team and the city. Fans have donated more than a thousand dollars to the endeavor so far, which trumps the bushel of corn and box of discount fireworks that Colts fans scrounged up to keep Peyton Manning in Indy.
"We're trying to send a message out to the Saints saying, 'Look, the fans are getting involved in this thing. We want to see something happen here,'" said LeMon. "Drew has a huge economic impact on this community, and there's a lot of value in what he contributes to the moral psyche of New Orleans."
Many would scoff at the idea of taking charitable donations for a guy who, with salary and endorsements, makes nearly a half-million dollars per week, especially when there are plenty of homeless children, disease-stricken puppies and Terrell Owenses out there who really need the money.
LeMon, whose last name is French for "lemon," is well aware of all this, and he's grounded enough to know that Brees would look like a jerk if he accepted a giant tip from his fans. This is why LeMon has all the money funneling directly into an irrevocable trust that can be accessed only by Brees himself or the Brees Dream Foundation, which supports cancer research, education initiatives and care for needy children and families.
In other words, he's doing a good thing.
LeMon likens the small donations that fans are making to buying Brees a cup of coffee or lunch -- just little tokens of appreciation to say thanks. He knows the money won't sway Brees one way or the other, but he has faith that the contributions speak more than just dollars and cents.
"We're trying to tell him, 'Look, we're your fan base. We love you. We want you back. We're willing to try anything we can within reason to make that happen. We're doing this to show you how much we want you to stay here in the city of New Orleans and how important you are to this community,'" said LeMon.
Maybe Brees will listen. Considering the groin kick the Saints have delivered to their fans this offseason, it seems like the least Brees could do is acknowledge the efforts of his most faithful supporters. If not, maybe LeMon could use the money to pay performance bonuses to opposing linebackers and change the site’s name to "Bounties for Brees."
Let's hope that won't be necessary. Let's hope the contract dispute gets ironed out quickly, the Saints get to hang on to their poster boy and a little bit of money donated in love will go to a worthwhile cause.
Then the fans can get back to what really matters: loudly pondering the identity of "dat."