Over the weekend, Jameis Winston’s comment about realizing his passion “wasn’t football” but “playing football” seemed to have resonated with Drew Brees. It was also more interesting than anything he’s ever said in public. Brees is going through a pseudo-midlife crisis exacerbated by career changes that can best be described as somewhere between Ric Flair’s dusty butt deciding to make a comeback in wrestling and Michael Keaton playing a scrapped actor turning to the Fame clings, can be described birdman. You could bet Brees has also thought about buying a convertible and hair extensions.
When Brees retired, the networks didn’t go after him for his voice on their shows. He was never a prominent pitchman outside of New Orleans, and a beginning NFL quarterback was the heart and soul of what he is.
For nearly two decades, he was sandwiched between colossal figures Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. For two decades, he was a mild-mannered quarterback with the personality of unseasoned tuna salad. He lacked the sociability of Manning and the aura of infallibility of Teflon Tom. Brees barely had time to hold the passing yardage and passing touchdown record before Brady stole his thunder.
Even in retirement, Brady and Manning torment his broadcasting career. Last week, Fox announced They were about to shell out a fortune of $300 million for Brady to provide “Oh Shucks” analysis and vanilla commentary for a decade after his retirement. The #1 job of color analyst has become a lucrative quarterback afterlife.
On Sunday, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that Brees and NBC’s Football night in America parted ways. The network reportedly rated Brees after one season and lost faith in him as a potential Cris Collinsworth replacement after he was floored in the dressing room during an intriguing playoff game between the Bengals and Raiders. The outcry about his rookie year as an analyst was so overwhelmingly negative that NBC didn’t even believe he’d improve.
Brees is no stranger to failure. He was called up short at the NFL Combine. He was kicked out of San Diego to make room for Phillip Rivers. Dolphins team doctors determined he was too damaged to take any chances. However, he’s 43 now. This has to be an especially devastating blow to the ego considering how ManningCast is thriving at ESPN. NBC doesn’t have a second job because they only air one game a week. So unless he catches on at another station, he’ll spend his Sundays watching his main competitors hack it up in prime time.
Faced with that prospect, Brees has done what most athletes do who face a bleak future after the broadcast didn’t work. No, not a podcast. At some point the athletes will miss the crowds of fans and the raw, punchy atmosphere. The broadcast and the pressure of performing live provide a drip of that well-known rush of adrenaline and dopamine. Brees teased him about the idea of returning to the field and passive-aggressively inquired about rejoining the Saints.
We’ve seen this movie before. Jason Witten made a desperate return to the Cowboys after his color commentary was postponed, and Rob Gronkowski left the Fox studio after a brief stint to return and play with Brady in Tampa Bay. The Holy He has reportedly been researching Brees temporarily beginning in week 15 when the only quarterbacks left on their roster tested positive for COVID ahead of a Monday night football game.
Unfortunately for Brees, Sean Payton left the building and his arm strength left him years ago anyway. Current Saints head coach Dennis Allen told the media that he took Brees’ musings as a joke. However, if Brees considers taking part in a pickleball tour, he still needs to find something to do with his time for the next several decades.
He could go the conservative route of the news. Conservative viewers love athletes with strong opinions on culture war issues like the anthem, but brees didn’t even have the spine to stand up for his boot licking. There’s no shame in a Hall of Fame QB. He starts out at a smaller, local media market where he can hone his craft. There must be a high school in the area that’s looking for an offensive coordinator. He could remain in the professional football business by taking an entry-level position in a front office, or spend more time expanding his investment portfolio. If he just wants to play football, the Fan Controlled Football League has become a popular spot for washed-up ex-NFL stars like TO and Johnny Manziel.