For the first time in two decades, Drew Brees’ offseason regimen is different. While the 42-year-old isn’t preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming NFL season as a player, Brees is conducting the same amount of research and preparation ahead of his debut season in the studio and broadcast booth for NBC Sports.
Brees, who retired on March 14 as the NFL’s all-time leading passer (80,358 yards) and No. 2 in career passing touchdowns (571), joined NBC Sports as a studio analyst for Football Night in America and as an analyst for NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame football.
“I feel like I’m busier in retirement than I was as a player,” said Brees, who played for the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2020. “I think it’s because with football you’re so laser focused on your training, recovery and what it’s going to take for you to be the best football player you can be and it’s easy to say ‘no’ to other things because your focus is on football. When it’s no longer your focus or your excuse, if you will, all of a sudden it’s hard to say ‘no’ to all of the great and unique opportunities that come your way.
“A lot of things have kind of fallen in my lap this offseason that weren’t expected and have kept me very, very busy, coupled with all the time with my family and youth sports opening back up again post-Covid.”
While Brees won’t be part of NBC’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage, he has spent a lot of time over the past four months building a relationship and rapport with his new teammates including soon-to-be broadcast partner Mike Tirico and NBC Sports producers Rob Hyland and Fred Gaudelli, working the ins and outs of broadcasting a game and doing in-studio analysis.
“It’s definitely utilizing a different muscle, it’s definitely a different skill set and it’s definitely a different thought process, so the more time and the more reps I can get out of it, I think the better I’ll be at it,” Brees said. “You also begin to build camaraderie with the team just like I would throwing a specific route to (Saints receiver) Michael Thomas—it’s the same when I’m in the broadcast booth with Mike Tirico. The more we can finish each other’s sentences, I think the more effective we’ll be, the more entertaining we’ll be and the more informative we’ll be.”
While there’s been plenty of talk about Tony Romo’s success in the broadcast booth for CBS, Brees isn’t viewing the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback as a rival, but as inspiration.
Brees said Romo’s ability to anticipate and articulate plays pre-snap, which has led to much of his praise, is part of his goal as a broadcaster, while he plans to put his own spin on things. The 13-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl XLIV champion said he wants viewers to be highly entertained when watching games he’s broadcasting and walk away saying they learned something about a particular team, player or offensive system.
“It’s one thing to understand the game having played it and being able to see it and process it a certain way, but it’s another thing to be able to articulate it and to be able to storytell and put it into a broadcast or a show,” Brees said. “I think there’s a balance there and I definitely think there’s a skill set there as well. … Especially if you have knowledge of the teams you’re watching, you’re maybe able to anticipate what’s coming. It definitely is a different skill set to be able to articulate it and communicate it though. It’s an exciting challenge.”
As he continues to gain invaluable reps ahead of his rookie season as a broadcaster, Brees is keeping more than busy with countless business and philanthropic opportunities.
The two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year signed a multi-year partnership with copper-infused wearables company Copper Compression in January, and was named a global brand ambassador with NBC Sports’ Official Betting Partner, PointsBet, in July. Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, a Louisiana-based chain Brees joined as co-owner and partner in 2015, opened its 55th location nationwide in Wilmington, N.C., in July.
Brees, who also owns multiple Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’ franchises, remains equally as busy and active with his Brees Dream Foundation, where he and wife Brittany personally donated $5 million to the State of Louisiana in 2020 to help combat Covid-19.
Retirement certainly isn’t sleeping in and/or playing endless rounds of golf. Brees, who said he’s only played golf twice in the past five months, is typically in his office at 5 or 5:30 a.m. to start his day. It isn’t until 8-year-old Callen comes in after he wakes up where Brees takes a break—no matter what he’s doing, he always pauses to play chess with his son. Despite his playing days being behind him, the proud father remains a weekend warrior, throwing about 150 pitches in batting practice each day to his kids.
Brees, who said his lengthy list of to-dos not only keeps him focused and active but has him waking up with a purpose each morning, may also have a passion project or two brewing with NBC, but not for at least another year.
“I can’t let the cat out of the bag,” he said, adding: “Right now a lot of the NBC team is focused on the Olympics because that’s the here and now. Once the Olympics end in August, then it’s full steam ahead with football. For me, especially this being my first opportunity to broadcast games in the booth and also be in-studio, I’m really honed in on those specific roles and then as we kind of ramp up for the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, we’ll see what my involvement might be there.
“Then once the next offseason rolls around is where I might begin honing in on some of those other passion projects. We’ll wait and see. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so we’ll just take it one step at a time.”