NFL

Why Drew Brees retired from the NFL and became a broadcaster for NBC

Drew Brees, the 42-year-old former Saints quarterbac, is in his first year of retirement and already took another job. His national broadcasting debut will be tonight on “Sunday Night Football.”

On March 15, Brees announced on ” The Today Show” that he would be working with NBC Sports as a studio analyst for “Football Night in America” and a game analyst for Notre Dame football. 

“I’m excited about that journey,” Brees said. “I’m excited to stay very closely connected with the game of football. It’s been such an important part of my life. I can continue to be able to talk about it and show a passion for it.”

After a 20-year NFL career as quarterback for the Saints and the Chargers, it’s no surprise the future Hall of Famer would stay close to football. As a Super Bowl champion, former MVP, 13-time Pro Bowler and the NFL’s all-time leader with 80,358 passing yards, Brees has quite the football experience. 

But what will his job entail exactly? Here’s how the recent retiree turned broadcast rookie got the job and what he will be doing for NBC.

Why Drew Brees retired and signed with NBC

Before Brees retired from the NFL earlier this year, there was talk that he would be joining either NBC or ESPN this season. Those rumors started as early as spring 2020. The question wasn’t “Is he going into broadcasting?”; it was “Where will he end up?”

It only took Brees one day into retirement to make the announcement in March that he was going to NBC. There is speculation that Brees was NBC’s answer to Tony Romo on CBS, after the former Cowboys quarterback signed a multi-year $17 million per year contract, making him the highest-paid NFL analyst in history. The former quarterback turned analyst path worked for Romo, so NBC wanted to try it out with Brees, too.

Brees personally was excited for the opportunity because he believes he can translate his quarterback knowledge to bring a new perspective to fans at home.

“The way that we see and process the game as a quarterback is much different than most because you are constantly having to anticipate and think ahead, and that’s how you are able to just really relax and perform because you know what to expect, you know what’s going to happen and you know the moves that are made before they’re made,” Brees said while speaking with New Orleans’ WGNO’s Meghan Payton. “I think something that can continue to be built upon and improved upon just in broadcasting in general is the ability to look forward, the ability to set up what’s about to happen or what should happen or what could happen, what we need to look out for or anticipate for the fan.”

While Brees doesn’t view Romo as a rival, it will be interesting to see how much Brees draws inspiration from his CBS counterpart.

Brees’ role at NBC

Brees’ broadcasting debut on Saturday was during the home opener Notre Dame versus Toledo game. Brees signed a contract to work as an analyst for the seven Fighting Irish home games that will be broadcast on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. Brees sits beside Mike Tirico.

His other debut will come tonight, as he acts as a studio analyst during halftime on “Football Night in America.” Brees will be flying out to the NBC studio in Connecticut every week and will watch all Sunday games in order to comment on them Sunday nights.

“We’re excited to have Drew join our team,” said Pete Bevacqua, Chairman of NBC Sports Group, via NBC’s press release. “We know that Drew will apply the same work ethic and continuously positive attitude to everything he touches at NBC Sports and we know, as his new teammates, he’ll make us better.”

During his appearance on The Today Show in March, Hoda Kotb replied to Brees’ news by saying, “Drew, you got to practice broadcasting, babe, though, it’s not simple.” From the moment he took the job, Brees began preparing for his new role.

This training is different from the football training Brees is used to. He claimed to prepare all offseason to develop this new skill set before taking on broadcasting. 

“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, via Forbes’ Michael LoRé. “I think there’s a balance there and I definitely think there’s a skill set there as well. It definitely is a different skill set to be able to articulate it and communicate it though. It’s an exciting challenge.”

NBC plans to replace Al Michaels with Mike Tirico after the 2022 Super Bowl, so there is speculation that Brees could then become Cris Collinsworth’s replacement down the road.

Brees makes his announcing debut

After Brees’ debut in the booth on Saturday’s Notre Dame game, fans seemed to enjoy Brees’ commentary. While there were still critics saying he didn’t add much to the game, others argued that he was dialed in and provided additional analysis that fans weren’t used to hearing with non-football player commentators. 

Because Brees was a fan favorite quarterback during his time in the NFL, his broadcasting career has been generally accepted by fans, especially due to Romo’s popularity at CBS. Brees is still learning, though, so having a hiccup or two is expected for the broadcast newbie. 

Some fans thought Brees was too generic with his statements and needs more time to practice. It was just his first broadcast, after all.

It will be interesting to see the reaction Brees gets as he has his studio analyst debut tonight during the Bears vs. Rams game. At Thursday night’s game, Brees’ hair was a popular topic on social media since his hairline miraculously appeared more full than it did during his football career.

Drew Brees’ broadcast contract

Brees’ NBC contract value has not been made public, but it’s believed NBC is paying Brees more than $6 million, which was ESPN’s official offer. During Brees’ last season in the NFL, ESPN and NBC fought for Brees’ partnership. ESPN let their contract price tag become public, while NBC has kept the number on the locks. 

Romo is the highest paid football analyst now at $17 million per year.

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