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Drew Brees: Tony Romo ‘on my list of people to talk to’ in transition to TV

Jori Epstein, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Amid the whirlwind of leaving one job and diving into the next, Drew Brees hasn’t yet talked to Tony Romo.

“But he’s certainly on my list of people to talk to,” Brees said of the last quarterback who walked off the NFL field and into a major-network broadcast role.

Brees announced his retirement Sunday after 20 seasons, the last 15 with the New Orleans Saints. The 13-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion officially joined NBC Sports on Monday.

“You certainly want fans to glimpse into the way you’ve seen and processed the game but also feel your love and passion for game,” Brees said Wednesday on a phone call organized by NBC Sports. “Then the trick is to be able to articulate that in a way to where fans can not only understand it, but I want them to walk away from the game saying: 'Man, I know a lot more about the game now.’ Or, ‘Man, I know a lot more about that player, or that team. I have a new appreciation for it.’

“It’s going to be as authentic as possibly can be.”

Drew Brees is making the transition from the NFL to the television booth.
Drew Brees is making the transition from the NFL to the television booth.

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For many fans, Romo has achieved that. Romo retired in 2017 to fill CBS Sports’ lead NFL color analyst role beside play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz. His enthusiasm and energy differs from the broadcast of another former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman, who calls games more traditionally for FOX. Brees has studied each of them in addition to NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, whom he could eventually succeed.

“If you look at all the great broadcasters…. everyone had their own style,” Brees said. “What Tony did was he very quickly showed football fans everywhere the way an NFL quarterback can see and process the game. It’s obviously maybe much different than what they’d seen and heard before. Obviously, he’s had a ton of success.

“The best piece of advice I’ve gotten so far when stepping into this business and stepping into the booth is just to be yourself. That’s exactly what Tony’s done.”

Brees said he’s not yet sure what his style will be, but he’s eager to show fans how he analyzed opponents across his prolific NFL career. What cues on offense and defense is he dialed into? What alignments and coverages is he anticipating and why? Brees’ 2021 football season responsibilities will include studio analysis on NBC’s Football Night in America show and game analysis alongside Mike Tirico for Notre Dame football. Brees is eager to delve deeper into where the college and NFL games are crossing over, he said. On Football Night in America, the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader (80,358) aims to deliver authenticity from “a guy who’s fresh out and probably sees and processes differently.”

Transitioning to TV has been a serious consideration for Brees since 2017, when he had the chance to check out a booth at a Purdue-Louisville game. A “light bulb went on” that he was capable and passionate about making the pivot. Brees has since considered how analysts selected topics and strategized delivery throughout a broadcast. Brees said he approached each of the last four seasons as if it could be his last before stepping away on the 15th anniversary of joining the Saints.

“Could I keep playing? Yeah, I’m sure I could,” Brees said. “I felt it was time.”

NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said his team greets Brees with excitement— and relief.

“He scared a bunch of people when pushing that sled and getting a massive workout in a few weeks ago,” Flood laughed. “Throwing people off the scent, even giving us pause. We’re really excited to have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, future Hall of Famer coming in in a Super Bowl year.

“We’re thrilled Drew is officially on the NBC Sports team.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Drew Brees: Tony Romo is on list of people to talk to in shift to TV