On March 14, 2006, the New Orleans Saints made a franchise-changing acquisition when they signed former Chargers quarterback Drew Brees. On the 15th anniversary of that signing, Brees announced his retirement, ending a 20-year career that included 13 Pro Bowls, several franchise and career records and a Super Bowl victory.
Hours after his retirement announcement, Brees confirmed on "Today" that he will be joining NBC's NFL coverage team. Brees will follow in the footsteps of Tony Romo, another successful NFL quarterback who has become a highly regarded color analyst as part of CBS Sports' NFL coverage team.
Along with confirming what he'll be doing next, Brees answered several other questions in his first public interview since breaking the news of his retirement.
On his decision to retire
"That's a decision that you don't just wake up one day and say, 'Hey, I'm gonna retire.' It's definitely a process. I'm 42 years old. I've had a chance to play this game for 20 years in the NFL. I think for the last few years, I've felt like this moment was coming. It just made me so laser focused on staying in the moment, each and every day. Enjoying the preparation, enjoying the grind, enjoying the celebration with my teammates. Just knowing at some point I will retire and move on to the next chapter, and I want to be able to look back with incredible memories and knowing that I gave it my absolute best."
What will he miss most?
"There's so many things. The moments on the field after the game. I think those are the moments my kids most look forward to. It's the game after the game. I think that's been one of the most special parts of this whole journey is watching our kids grow up through this and be able to retain the information and come to the Saints' facility. They would jump in the hot tub with me. They'd jump in the cold tub with me. They'd jump in the whirl pool. They'd bring their footballs to the game knowing they had the opportunity to go on the field later to play. Having them be a part of this, and knowing that there's memories and hopefully moments of inspiration for them that will last a lifetime, that's what it's all about."
On his decision to sign with the Saints in 2006
"I feel like there was divine intervention there. I can remember like it was yesterday. Brittany and I visiting New Orleans, and it was six months post Katrina. The city was just in shambles. I think the Saints were trying to show us the best of the city, and they were trying to show us maybe some neighborhoods that were still in tact and, 'Hey look, you can live here. You can raise a family. This is a great place.' It wasn't until Sean Payton got lost driving us back to the Saints' facility at one point. Remember, he had only been there a month. And he got lost in Lakeview, right next to the 17th Street Canal, where some of the worst flooding and destruction had occurred. I remember seeing houses ripped off the foundation. In fact, at one point the car stopped, we both looked up and there was a tugboat in the middle of the road so we had to turn around because we couldn't pass. That was the moment where Brittany and I looked at each other and said, 'This is so much more than just football. This is part of the resurrection and resurgence of one of the greatest cities and we have a chance to be a part of this. This is a calling.'"
"It's been amazing. Just the outpouring of support and emotion and memories. I think anything you do, especially when you put your heart and you put your soul into it, you hope that you're able to impact people in a really positive way. Life is full of defining moments. Life is full of next chapters. I think that whenever you leave one chapter and go onto the next one, I think you hope to have a left a legacy where you left it better than when you found it. I think that's been my philosophy. That's been how I've tried to approach life and these are memories and these are relationships that will last a lifetime."