Profile of a Christian athlete: Drew Brees

In 2016 New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees set a NFL record with his fifth season passing for over 5,000 yards, having previously hit the mark in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Already the owner of seven other passing records, Brees’ 2016 season further cemented his status as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.  Over the course of his 16-year (and still going) career with the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints, Drew has amassed over 66,000 passing yards and 465 touchdowns and ranks sixth in NFL history with 137 victories as a starting QB.  Records aside, the pinnacle of Brees’ career was the 31-17 upset over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.  In the stunning victory, Drew completed a then-Super Bowl record 32 passes for 288 yards and two td’s and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.  Brees and the Saints’ incredible run through the postseason revitalized the city of New Orleans and became a rallying symbol for the City’s hope and recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Speaking to the media after the Super Bowl win, Brees summed up the situation perfectly.   “Four years ago, who ever thought this would be happening when 85 percent of the city was under water from (Hurricane) Katrina,” Brees said. “Most people not knowing if New Orleans would ever come back or if the organization and the team would come back. … This is the culmination of that belief and that faith.”  The historic win for the Saints would also be the culmination of Brees football career and how it intersected with his faith in God.

Born in Austin, Texas on January 15, 1979, Drew grew up in a house that went to church regularly. Though he was raised in the church, Drew said he did not fully accept and understand it until his junior year, when he heard a sermon calling “a few good men to serve God.”  At that moment, it all clicked for Brees and he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart on January 15, 1996, his 17th birthday.  Thus began Drew’s journey of learning to trust in God and in God’s timing.  After graduating from Westlake High School, Brees went to Purdue University in Lafayette,  Indiana.  There the six-foot tall QB set multiple school and Big-10 Conference records, including passing attempts (1,678), passing completions (1,026), passing yards (11,792), passing touchdowns (90) and total offensive yards (12,692).  After winning the 2000 Maxwell Award as the Nation’s top player and finishing third in the Heisman race, Brees was selected with the 32nd pick in the 2001 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers.  Panned by critics for being too short and lacking arm strength and accuracy coming out of college, Drew spent his rookie season on the bench before proving his doubters wrong in 2002.  Taking over as the Chargers’ starting QB in his second season, Brees threw for over 12,000 yards with 80 touchdowns while going 30-28 including one trip to the playoffs during his five years in San Diego.  Unfortunately a possible career-ending shoulder injury in 2005, which Drew said at that time he believed was the worst moment at the worst possible time, led to his release from the Chargers and his eventual signing with the Saints.  Speaking to Sharing the Faith magazine, Drew called the shoulder injury and his deal with the Saints a calling from God, and while at the time he found himself asking “Why is this happening?” he later discovered that God’s timing was truly perfect for him and the city of New Orleans.  Drew credited his recovery from surgery and the transition to the Saints for helping him grow as a person and grow in his faith.  Drew strives to live his life as a Christian witness and hopes to have a positive impact on the community.  Alongside his wife Brittany, Drew has given back to his alma-mater and volunteers his time with the Make a Wish foundation and the United Service Organization. In 2003, Drew founded the Brees Dream Foundation to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need.  As the 2017 season begins, Drew will look to share the gospel of Christ through his excellence on the field and his actions in the community.


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