COMFORT, Texas - After a day as honorary mayor of this small town in his home state, Drew Brees immediately faces another long, tough campaign -- as quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.
Given what the New Orleans franchise has been through during the past decade, this season's training camp opens free of major distractions and disruptions, especially now that the money dispute over whether Jimmy Graham is a tight end or wide receiver has been resolved by a new contract.
But Brees is sticking to his game plan: stay ready for anything.
"I think our mentality, maybe like the military's, is to adapt and conquer," said Brees, whose 24-hour mayoral stint Wednesday was part of a Wrangler jeans promotion.
"It's been that way. No matter what's thrown at us, we find a way to handle and try to handle it with class and then be better for it at the end of the day.
"Tough offseason, just in regards to the whole Jimmy Graham situation. But you understand that's part of the process with free agency and contract situations. â?¦ I was in that situation two years ago."
Brees, whose own situation was resolved in 2012 by a five-year, $100-million deal, said Graham and Saints management both are now happy.
"I'm excited to have him back. â?¦ It's training camp time. It's football season. It's here. It's arrived. We're ready to roll," he said.
The eight-time Pro Bowler, who has thrown for 51,081 yards and 363 touchdowns in 13 seasons, arrived here early Wednesday via a Wrangler private jet that flew him from New Orleans to nearby San Antonio. He said the jet would take him to Lewisburg, W.Va., for the Saints' camp at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Players are due to report Thursday.
In nine seasons, the Saints have been through tragedy and turmoil, with a Super Bowl title in between: Amid the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Superdome was out of commission. The Saints went 3-13 playing home games at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, San Antonio's Alamodome and LSU's Tiger Stadium.
Coach Sean Payton and Brees arrived the next year. They led New Orleans to a Super Bowl title in the 2009 season.
Then the franchise was rocked by the Bountygate scandal in 2012. Payton was suspended for the season. General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely. The Saints went 7-9.
Last season, the Saints bounced back with an 11-5 regular season to earn a playoff wild card. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Does Brees begin this season with another Super Bowl title in his sights?
"You always feel that way. I'm not going to get ahead of ourselves because we've still got a lot of work to do. But I feel like all the pieces are in place. â?¦ If you stay healthy and things go your way, we've got as good a shot as anybody," he said.
With one Super Bowl title in hand, does that take some pressure off the 35-year-old?
"You try to avoid that mentality. Play like you don't have (a title)," said Brees. "I'm taking the approach that I'm 25 years old, I'm fresh in this league and every person who walks into the stadium to watch me play and watched my team play â?¦ we've got to prove something to them.'
There were plenty of Saints fans among the estimated 1,500 in attendance Wednesday at the Comfort High School stadium. Wrangler held the event for the national launch of its Advanced Comfort jeans.
Brees was honorary mayor by proclamation of a local judge. One local slogan of this community of about 2,300 is, "I found Comfort â?¦ in Texas." It was a fit for Wrangler. By proclamation, it also was deemed Comfort will be known as Advanced Comfort, Tex., for six months.
Free jeans and t-shirts were handed out. Wrangler estimated it gave away about 5,000 pairs of jeans. Attendees were allowed to ask for multiples pairs.
The jeans are for men. They were worn on the field by dozens of guys who took part in football drills dubbed the "Wrangler Comfort Challenge." The Comfort High football team took part and Brees supervised.
Brees also made a joking mayoral pledge.
"Well, now down to business. Now that I am the mayor, NO taxes!" he told the crowd from a platform on the field. He quickly added, "I don't think I have that authority."
Saints fan Jackie Freeman, 60, attended with several family members, including a 5-yearold grandson â?? named Drew.
"Of course, he's named after Drew Brees," said Freeman, who arrived here in the dark at 5 a.m. local time, more than two hours before Brees' scheduled arrival.
Freeman now lives about 45 minutes away in Universal City, Tex., but she grew up on the Mississippi coast and was a Saints' fan from their first season in 1967. Through the team's first two struggling decades, she never lost faith.
"I never wore a bag on my head and I never called them the 'Aints,' ''said Freeman.
Nick Alvarado, 23, of Kerrville, Tex., was a fan of Reggie Bush when he was at Southern Cal and Brees when he was with the San Diego Chargers. "When the two got together in New Orleans, that was it. I was a Saints fan," said Alvarado, wearing Brees' No. 9 jersey.
He likes the team's chances for a Super Bowl: "They lost a couple of players, but they still have Drew Brees."