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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘Hard Pass’: NFL TV Networks Have Little Interest In Drew Brees

  • Former Super Bowl MVP eying possible return to sports TV.
  • Legendary QB lasted only one season at NBC.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Sports TV can be an unforgiving business if you’re perceived as a failure. Witness the challenges facing former NBC Sports football analyst Drew Brees.

The likable Brees is one of the most successful quarterbacks in history, winning a Super Bowl MVP, earning 13 Pro Bowl selections and leading the NFL in passing a record seven times. 

But Brees left NBC after only one year, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. 

When the former New Orleans Saints superstar threw up a Hail Mary pass this week about possibly returning to broadcasting, the news was met with a collective yawn by some of the NFL’s TV partners. 

“Hard pass,” one executive told Front Office Sports. Another had an equally blunt answer when asked if his network had any interest in a legendary QB who’s thrown for more passing yards than any player except Tom Brady. “None.”

When NBC hired Brees, he was viewed as the heir apparent to Cris Collinsworth on “Sunday Night Football,” the most-watched TV show in prime time for a record 11 years in a row. 

But he didn’t impress either in the studio or during games in his one season working NBC’s NFL and Notre Dame coverage.

Media critics were merciless after Brees’ poor playoff debut calling the Cincinnati Bengals-Las Vegas Raiders Wild Card game this year.

“As a connoisseur of bad announcing, what was funny about Drew Brees wasn’t that he was awkward, a la Jason Witten. He just had nothing to say,” tweeted Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. “When [Mike] Tirico asked him to set up the last drive, Brees said the Raiders should get out of bounds to stop the clock.”

Wrote Andy Nesbitt of USA TODAY: “Brees was so bad throughout the game that he had fans actually wishing that Jason Witten was back calling games. That is not good. Not good at all.”

But don’t consign the 43-year-old Brees to the Sports TV Hall of Shame along with Witten, Ray Lewis, and Emmitt Smith just yet.

You could argue both Brees and NBC should have given the experiment more than one year before pulling the plug. Or that he got a raw deal from the network.

During an appearance with the AP Pro Football Podcast, Brees said he might be more suited to a freewheeling alternate feed such as ESPN2’s popular “ManningCast” of “Monday Night Football” with Peyton and Eli Manning.

“I think the world by which the fans consume the game is also changing. I think you see a lot of these alternative broadcasts that are taking place. It’s really kind of an interesting way to watch the game and hear the game and learn about the game,” Brees told the AP.  

So will we see Brees full-time again in the studio or broadcast booth? Given what happened to Witten and other TV flops, the answer is probably no. But Brees still has cards he can play. 

Amazon Prime Video had interest in Brees as part of a possible “QB-Only” MegaCast of “Thursday Night Football,” said sources. CBS Sports and Fox Sports broadcast multiple NFL games, not just one national game like NBC. They usually add and subtract big names every off-season.

And don’t count out a reunion between NBC and Brees, who just became part-owner of a pro Pickleball franchise.

The Purdue University legend and NBC parted on good terms. It would make sense for the ex-Boilermakers QB (who still holds several Big Ten Conference passing records) to be part of NBC’s Big Ten coverage starting in 2023.

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