Following a thumb injury that will keep Drew Brees out between six to eight weeks, the New Orleans Saints announced today it has signed long, long, longtime veteran quarterback Ron Catlan to a one-year deal.
Catlan, 6 feet 3 inches, 203 pounds, was originally a first-round draft pick of the Saints in 1969 out of Notre Dame and displayed enormous potential before coincidentally taking a vicious, season-ending sack toward the end of a game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was released the following offseason and his career sputtered, remaining a free agent until today.
“Cat” as he was called by all of his now-deceased friends will become the second-string quarterback behind backup Teddy Bridgewater allowing “Swiss Army Knife” Taysom Hill to resume his game-changing role in games without fear of injuring Bridgewater’s backup and only other quarterback on the roster.
The Saints had concerns over Bridgewater’s health after he sustained giant brass balls in Sunday’s 33-27 win over the Seattle Seahawks, though he is fine now, prompting the team to look for veteran depth while Brees rehabs his thumb.
For decades, the professional lifespan of an NFL quarterback was the same: He’d ascend in his mid-20s, peak a few years later, continue to dominate in his early 30s, and then, shortly afterward, start the inevitable slide to retirement. But Catlan is changing that notion as he catches on with the Saints once again, at least temporarily, and take snaps during his ninth decade of life.
For the 96-year-old, this is likely the final chance to resuscitate his once-promising career before he himself needs to be.
“Someone asked me the other day, ‘Cat, are you out of money? Why are you attempting a comeback at your age?’” Catlan said after deciding to attempt a comeback. “I told him, ‘Because I love playing football. But also because all the women and booze don’t pay for themselves.’”
Catlan provides a high level of been-there, think-I-remember-seeing-that experience to the Saints’ passer corps even if his best days may be far behind him. He played extremely well in his last real game action against the Cowboys, passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns while breaking three of his ribs in the win.
“I’m ready to show these fellers I have something left. I can still throw go routes, out routes, whatever. Heck, I can even throw my hip out if they ask me to.”