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Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, have become synonymous with New Orleans, but it has been quite the journey that led the family to the Saints. Drew spent his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers, never throwing for more than 3,600 yards during his time in Southern California.
After undergoing a shoulder surgery, the Chargers released Drew in 2006, and handed the keys to backup quarterback Philip Rivers. Drew and Brittany opted to move to New Orleans after receiving an offer in the off-season from the Saints.
It is hard to imagine an athlete having a bigger impact on a city than Drew has had on New Orleans. The city was just months into the post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding process when Drew and Brittany arrived. The Brees got to work right away contributing both time and money to the rebuilding efforts. Drew’s career skyrocketed with the Saints, while Brittany has become a staple of the New Orleans community.
Learn more about the most popular couple in New Orleans.
1. The Brees Funded a New Orleans Playground For Children of All Abilities That Is Accessible for Kids With Mobility & Sensory Challenges
Drew and Brittany are no strangers to community service, and are very involved in giving back to New Orleans. Their latest project looks out for children who may not able to access some of the other playgrounds in the area. WGNO ABC-New Orleans describes the Audubon Park playground the Brees funded.
The unique design offers a welcoming environment for children with mobility challenges, including playground equipment accessible for people who use wheelchairs. In addition, the design presents a variety of features that provide sensory engagement and promote the development of motor skills.
The playground also creates opportunities for children who don’t face these kinds of challenges to connect with peers of different backgrounds and abilities—an experience that experts say can foster empathy along with social and emotional skills that can last a lifetime.
There are benefits for adults, too. For parents and grandparents who face mobility challenges, the new playground is built to encourage cross-generational play, a key to building strong family ties.
Drew spoke to Saints.com about the idea behind the playground.
“My wife and I funded it personally, and it was significant,” Brees explained to Saints.com. “But we wanted to do it right and we wanted to really give something to New Orleans that we felt like it didn’t have already. That was a fully inclusive playground. Again, I think that’s the most important element to this that this is a playground for children of all abilities. We built it very specifically with wheelchair ramps, and certain things in mind to make sure that no child is excluded here. That there’s something here for every child.”
2. Hurricane Katrina Played a Role in Drew Signing With the Saints in 2006
It is natural now to think of Drew as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but it was not always that way. The Chargers released the quarterback in 2006, and the Saints gave Drew an offer. It was just six months after Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans, but the couple believed they could play a role in helping rebuild the city.
“We chose New Orleans because we felt like we could do something special down here,” Drew explained to CNN. “We leaned on each other in so many cases. As people are trying to rebuild their homes, rebuild their lives, they’re still coming to games to cheer on the Saints because it just gives them so much energy and enthusiasm … just this feeling that we’re all in this together.”
The family got to work right away as the Drew Brees Foundation partnered with Operation Kids to help rebuild youth facilities in the area including academic centers, parks, playgrounds and after-school programs. While Drew gave both his time and money to help New Orleans, he admitted to ABC’s Robin Roberts (via The Times-Picayune) that it was the city that saved him.
There were so many emotional moments along the way, just because we knew this was about an overall recovery; an overall resurrection of this city, of this community, of a spirit. I needed somebody to believe in me just as much as New Orleans needed someone to believe in them. In so many ways, New Orleans not only saved my football career, but for me as a person.Download Video Links
3. Drew Met Brittany When They Were Attending Purdue, But Needed a Little Liquid Courage to Approach Her
Things did not go so smoothly when Drew first met Brittany at a college party. Drew was a sophomore at Purdue, and detailed their first exchange to ESPN the Magazine.
“I made a real fool of myself when I first met her,” Brees told ESPN the Magazine. “It was when I was a sophomore. It was my 20th birthday and I’d had about 17 shots and put my foot in my mouth. It was a typical football player cheesy line — we’ll leave it at that. It took me six months to get the courage to talk to her again. I finagled my way to get invited to a party that I knew she’d be at.”
Months later the couple finally went on their first day, but they were also joined by some of Drew’s Purdue teammates. Brittany recounted their first date to ESPN the Magazine.
“So he asked me out, and all my girlfriends wanted to come with,” Brittany told ESPN the Magazine. “You know, because he was That Guy Who Had Made Such a Fool of Himself. So he brought some of his football friends and we went to the movies. And his friends started throwing Gummy Bears at the screen!”
4. The Couple Has 4 Children & Their Youngest Child Was Born in 2014
In addition to giving back to the New Orleans community, Drew and Brittany have their hands full with four children of their own. Their youngest, Rylen, was born in 2014, and is the couple’s only daughter. Baylen, Bowen and Callen are the couple’s three sons.
After the birth of Rylen, Drew joked with The Times-Picayune, that he might need to get a vasectomy to keep the family at four.
I think I’m done. I might have to follow Jim Henderson’s recommendation from the [New Orleans Touchdown Club] luncheon…He was saying the ‘V’ word was next for me, vasectomy. We’ve got some football games to win first. And then as I’ve been told by those who have experienced it, do it Saturday before the final round of The Masters so I’ve got an excuse to sit around and watch it.
5. Their Oldest Son, Baylen, Dressed as Ted Ginn Jr., Complete With Braids, for Halloween
You would think when your dad is a star NFL quarterback, you may dress as him for Halloween. However, the couple’s oldest son, Baylen, had something else in mind, dressing as one of the Saints wide receivers his father throws to, Ted Ginn Jr. Drew explained his son’s attention to detail to ESPN.
“My boys are fans of the team,” Drew told ESPN. “And so from week to week, it could be somebody different. But Baylen, my oldest, has gravitated towards Ted Ginn Jr. right now. Why? I don’t know. I really don’t. But he’s a fan of him. And I think he saw a picture of him and Ted had the braids. So Baylen was like, ‘Well, if I’m gonna be Ted Ginn Jr. for Halloween, man I’m going all-in.’”
Drew dressed as the character Gru from the movie Despicable Me while his wife went as a minion.