In April, NBC won the bidding war for Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, who planned to jump directly into broadcasting when he eventually retires from the NFL. But after a dalliance with retirement last year, Brees decided to return to the NFL, signing a two-year, $50 million deal with the Saints in February.
NBC outbid Fox and ESPN for the Hall-of-Fame-worthy quarterback who, in the wake of the Tony Romo Experience, has the same potential to transfer a strong on-field knowledge base immediately into the announcer booth. Plus, the network was willing to wait a few years for Brees to finish up his playing career on his own terms first.
Turns out that might happen sooner than later. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it is believed that Brees is going to retire at the end of this current NFL season, opening the door for him to take the NBC role in 2021.
“They thought that last year and he surprised them in March by deciding to come back. This time, he’s got a signed contract with NBC. This time, he’s another year older. This time, he’s played through the 11 fractured ribs, the punctured lung. It’s been a difficult, physical season and I think most people still believe that this will be the final season for Drew Brees in New Orleans and in the NFL before he turns to the broadcast booth.”
Brees certainly has nothing left to prove on the field. A Super Bowl champion, he has over 80,000 passing yards, 568 touchdowns, and is the NFL’s all-time leader in completion percentage (67.7%). Given the physical toll this season has taken on him, it makes a lot of sense to walk away now rather than risk further injury as he gets older.
That’s especially true when you consider what NBC’s plans are for him. The plan reportedly calls for Brees to be a game analyst on Notre Dame football broadcasts as well as a studio analyst for “Football Night in America.” Effectively, Brees is expected to be groomed as the eventual replacement for Cris Collingsworth on “Sunday Night Football.” While comments that Brees has made in the last year regarding NFL anthem protests muddied the waters a bit, all signs point to him still being the future for NBC’s football coverage, though he’ll likely have to talk about that and other PR concerns ahead.
The Saints close out the regular season against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and then they’ll have the NFL playoffs, where they’ll be among the favorites to win the NFC. But at some point in the coming weeks, we’ll get our official answer on Drew Brees’s playing career, which will inform us when his broadcasting career begins. But if the reports are true, all signs point to Brees being on the call for NBC on September 18, 2021, when Notre Dame hosts the Purdue Boilermakers, giving Brees a chance to call a game with his alma mater.
In many ways, the timing seems right.