Last month, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that Drew Brees would not be returning to NBC’s Notre Dame and NFL coverage this fall, and the discussion moved on to who might replace him and what could be ahead for him. It was somewhat interesting that no one made an official announcement then, though, and that Brees (seen at right above with Mike Tirico calling a NFL playoff game in January) only vague-tweeted that he might still be back with NBC:
Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I’m currently undecided. I may work for NBC, I may play football again, I may focus on business and philanthropy, I may train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all of the above. I’ll let you know
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) May 15, 2022
Well, Brees did never let us know. He’s tweeted a bunch since then about baseball and pickleball with his kids, his music preferences, and his Copperfit, sliders, and crypto endorsements/activities, but not his NBC status. But it seemed safe to bet that he was, in fact, gone from NBC, based on Marchand’s reporting record. Joe Reedy of The Associated Press now has on-the-record confirmation of Brees’ departure from NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua, though, and what’s more notable than that still is what Bevacqua told Reedy about why Brees is leaving and how NBC wouldn’t stand in his way if he wants to go to another network (despite him still being under contract):
Bevacqua said conversations with Brees have centered around him wanting to spend more time with family.
“The unbelievable busyness of an NFL career and then really not taking a break at all and launching right in with us with both Notre Dame football and the NFL, it was certainly an around-the-clock assignment,” Bevacqua said. “This was definitely a lifestyle choice for him, which is totally understandable.”
“It was a new role and everyone has a learning curve. I think he did an unbelievable job with Notre Dame and improved every week,” Bevacqua said. “He was always unbelievably prepared, curious about how things were handled and the work that went into it.”
Even though Brees remains under contract to NBC, Bevacqua said they wouldn’t stand in the way if another opportunity came along for Brees. Fox has an opening for an analyst on its No. 2 NFL team, but it is likely Brees will spend the season at home.
There are a few notable things there. The “lifestyle choice” part makes this sound like this was Brees-instigated (Marchand’s report had it as “seemed mutual“), but that could also be Bevacqua saying nice things about Brees in public (as with many of his other comments here, which are a sharp contrast from many viewers’ reactions to Brees’ work, especially on that Raiders-Bengals playoff game he called). Even those comments are limited, though, with Bevacqua citing a “learning curve” and saying Brees “improved every week” and did “an unbelievable job with Notre Dame”; none of that’s particularly praising the NFL game work where Brees drew the most criticism.
And the news that NBC would not stand in the way if Brees received another opportunity elsewhere is maybe the strongest indication that they’re quite okay with Brees moving on. Yes, networks sometimes let people out of contracts early, but there’s usually something they get in return. Whether this departure was Brees-instigated or mutual, it seems like NBC is just fine with it.
Reedy also writes that “Bevacqua said they are closing in on a final decision” on who will fill Brees’ Notre Dame and NFL roles. We’ll see what that decision winds up being, and if the person or persons they tab for those roles winds up being a better fit. And we’ll also see if this marks the end for Brees’ TV career or if he winds up doing more TV work somewhere else, either this season or down the road.