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March 8, 2024 11 mins

In this episode of Conversations with a Legend, LeVar Arrington interviews Drew Brees, a Big Ten legend and Super Bowl champion. They reminisce about their college football rivalry and discuss the evolution of the game. Brees shares insights into offensive strategies and the challenges faced by defenses. He also talks about the importance of coaching and how connecting with Sean Payton transformed his career. The conversation concludes with a discussion about the FedEx Player of the Year Awards and the impact of the Big Ten-Pac-10 partnership.

  • College football rivalries create lasting memories and connections between players.
  • The game of football has evolved from a power-focused style to a more fast-paced and high-scoring approach.
  • Offensive strategies, such as the spread offense, have revolutionized the game and attracted talented players.
  • Coaching and collaboration between coaches and players are crucial for success in football.
  • The FedEx Player of the Year Awards recognize outstanding performances and support HBCU scholarship programs.
  • Partnerships between conferences, like the Big Ten-Pac-10 partnership, can benefit both sides by increasing exposure and recruiting opportunities.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
This is up on Game Presents Conversations with a Legend
with LeVar Errington, and LeVar is sitting down with some
of the legends you have watched on and off the field.
This is up on Game Presents Conversations with a Legend.

(00:24):
And now here's LeVar Errington.

Speaker 2 (00:28):
Except everybody's LeVar Arrington here. It is another exciting addition
of conversations with a legend. This next guy I'm gonna
speak to, well, he's a big ten legend. I know
him personally. We went head to head quite a few times.
Uh yeah, he's a special guy for due Boilemaker went
to the league Chargers ended with New Orleans Saints Super Bowl.

Speaker 3 (00:50):
Chant I got my guy Drew Brees here.

Speaker 2 (00:52):
He's going to be delivering the FedEx Player of the
Year nominees and Ground Player of the Year finalist as well.

Speaker 3 (01:00):
But first, foremost, man, how you doing, Man? I'm doing great.

Speaker 4 (01:03):
I was hoping you wouldn't bring up the nineteen ninety
eight nineteen ninety nine Penn State Purdue matchups.

Speaker 5 (01:09):
You know those didn't Those didn't farewell for us, Drew.

Speaker 2 (01:11):
I gotta say, first of all, if I recall correctly,
you guys did get us the following year.

Speaker 3 (01:18):
I do believe, Oh we lost. We lost.

Speaker 4 (01:20):
We lost in two thousand at your place because we
got two punts blocked. Dang that you guys took back
for touchdowns of recovering the end.

Speaker 5 (01:28):
Zone or something.

Speaker 3 (01:29):
We were wounded that year.

Speaker 5 (01:30):
I know, I know we still couldn't get you. It
was tough.

Speaker 3 (01:33):
Damn.

Speaker 5 (01:34):
I know. Penn State's the only Big Ten team I
didn't beat.

Speaker 3 (01:37):
See that was Michigan. For me, I couldn't get Michigan.
We never got Michigan for some strange reason. But the
one thing I.

Speaker 2 (01:43):
Do is I brag about the fact that I played
against Drew Brees and Tom Brady in college and obviously
you guys are two of the greatest to ever do it.

Speaker 3 (01:54):
Since we're talking college, what's your recollection of it?

Speaker 2 (01:58):
Like, look on how the landscape of football is unfolding now.
I mean for someone like you today's league, you're already
the most prolific passer and what you were able to
do and record wise, But how much different would it
be for you in today's league because it's so geared

(02:21):
towards someone with your type of skill set?

Speaker 5 (02:24):
Are you talking about in the college game?

Speaker 3 (02:26):
Well, the NFL, most certainly the NFL.

Speaker 5 (02:30):
I mean you probably remember this.

Speaker 4 (02:32):
Back in our era of Big ten football, it was
still three yards in a cloud of dust in a
lot of ways, right. It was a tough, physical, yeah,
power football league. And then Joe Tiller comes into Purdue
in nineteen ninety seven, and he brings a spread out
of us, right, which had never really been done. People
didn't know what was gonna work. But it worked very
well and obviously exactly right. Yeah, spread you guys out.

(02:53):
That was the only way to have a chance.

Speaker 3 (02:55):
Right.

Speaker 4 (02:55):
But but I think for me that was my skill
set right here. I was a six foot, you know,
two hundred pounds quarterback. Man, I love to throw the
football like I certainly had the instincts to do that.
And we were throwing the ball fifty sixty times a game,
and man, could we could give people problems?

Speaker 3 (03:10):
Right?

Speaker 4 (03:10):
And then we started to attract some talent saying, man,
I can go to another Big ten school and catch
forty balls a year, or I can go to Purdue
and I'll catch one hundred balls a year. Right, So
you start to attract guys that want to be a
part of an offense like that. And you start breaking
records and then people feel like, man, we're a part
of something that's never been done before, Like we're making
history here and we end up winning the Big Ten,
going the Rosbill my senior year. But that's become the
norm now in college football, right everybody is kind of

(03:33):
these high flying, very fast paced offenses, which to me,
it's fun to play in that type of an offensive system. Defensively,
I got to ask you, the thing I was always
conscious of, even when we were doing up tempo stuff
as an offense, was we can't be on and off
this field too fast, because that puts our defense.

Speaker 3 (03:53):
In a tough spot.

Speaker 4 (03:54):
Spot Like I don't want these guys on the field
too long getting worn down, right, So like I think.

Speaker 2 (03:59):
I want to be on the field and get worn
down by your uptempo offense and listen. For us, the
main key was to disrupt your rhythm, right like if
if we were going to have any chance, which it
came down to the very last play.

Speaker 3 (04:14):
It took us.

Speaker 2 (04:15):
Scoring twice against the offense for us to even be
able to win the game when we were in Lafayette. Yeah,
and it was really all based upon disrupting, trying to
disrupt at the line of scrimmage or or disguise our
looks so that we could get you to at least
do that right there, because we were hoping we could
get to you.

Speaker 3 (04:35):
That was our only chance, the only way.

Speaker 4 (04:36):
The only reason y'all beat us in ninety nine is
because you got a sack fumble you returned for a touchdown,
and then Courtney Brown tips a bubble pass right come on,
like we're trying to cut him, and he just kind
of throws the tackle down, tips this ball up and
takes it sixty for a touchdown.

Speaker 3 (04:51):
Fourteen. It was like, and you almost got us. You
still we should we should have still almost got us.

Speaker 2 (04:56):
I'll never I'll never forget the feeling of it because
we had already dodged a bullet against Miami.

Speaker 3 (05:03):
Miami. Each week we had to get a bomb to
beat Miami.

Speaker 2 (05:06):
Then we come in and it's like Breeze is gonna
like if you don't get to him, it's a rap,
Like it's just not going to end well.

Speaker 3 (05:16):
And that's all I can remember.

Speaker 2 (05:17):
At the end of the game, was like dog like
you a special dude, man, and you continued to be
special through the league and then obviously it turned into
what will be a first ballot Hall of Fame career,
which is freaking awesome because I didn't have that and
I wasn't a part of anything like that. How important
was it for you before we get into talking about

(05:39):
the what you're doing with FedEx, how important was it
for you to connect with Sean Payton And how much
of a difference was that for you moving forward in
your career or would it have been that if they
just continued on with you and San Diego Because a
lot of people were disappointed that it ended the way
that it did in sandye Diego, but you end up

(06:01):
with Sean Payton, dope dope coach, and.

Speaker 3 (06:04):
The rest is kind of history. How important was that?

Speaker 5 (06:07):
Yeah?

Speaker 4 (06:07):
I mean everybody asked, you know, or speculates as to
what it would have been like had I had a
chance to stay in San Diego. And the unique thing
about San Diego was when I got to Sante, I
was drafted there in the second round in two thousand
and one, Ladanian Thomlinson was the first round pick. I
was a second round pick, and the next year Marty
shotan Era comes in as the coach.

Speaker 5 (06:25):
But we were one in fifteen.

Speaker 4 (06:27):
They were one and fifteen the year before that was
kind of the end of the Ryan leaf, you know,
saga there. So they were one in fifteen, so bottom
of the league, right and it was but that was
to me, that was an opportunity. It's the same situation
we stepped into it Purdue Ladanian Thompson, similar situations stepping
at TCU under recruited.

Speaker 5 (06:43):
You go to a place, you build the program up.

Speaker 4 (06:45):
So coming into a situation where we're at the bottom
and we're trying to build the top, like, we love that,
we love that underdog story and said, by the time
we leave here, Man, we're going to be champs. Well
five years later, Man threw a bunch of struggle.

Speaker 5 (06:56):
Shoot.

Speaker 4 (06:57):
I had been benched three times. They draft Philip Rivers
to take my job. I've got a scratching claw to
remain the starter. Ended up getting to a point where
finally it's like, Okay, we're in a position where we're
winning the division, we're a playoff team, We're going to
make a run. We've built the roster now to go
make a run. And then that's when I had the
injury at the end of the very last game, of
the five season that basically sent me to New Orleans.

(07:19):
But honestly, it was the best thing that ever could
have happened to me because being first off, being a
part of that was greater than just football, right, I mean,
that was that was God's calling in my life.

Speaker 3 (07:29):
To be a part of the city absolutely happened.

Speaker 4 (07:32):
But being with a guy like Sean Payton who invested
so much in me, I mean, that was what surprised
me so much.

Speaker 5 (07:40):
Was my very first meeting with him.

Speaker 4 (07:41):
He starts drawing plays on the on the on the blackboard,
and he's drawn all the plays that I ran in
San Diego. And I'm like, wait, coach, I thought you
ran West Coast and you guys were doing He said, no,
these are the things, these are the things that you
do well, right, and so this is going to be
a staple in our offense.

Speaker 3 (07:55):
Wow, I said right away.

Speaker 4 (07:56):
I mean most guys coming, especially in a tough situation,
and say my way are the highways the way we're
doing it. But it was very much a collaboration, and
I felt that way throughout my entire career. There was
definitely that, like I gave him that head coach respect, right,
But it was very much a friendship and a respect
and a collaboration with everything that we did. And I

(08:18):
felt like that's what helps us do so many special things.

Speaker 3 (08:21):
Together, knowing that that's how he is. What do you
think happened with him and Russell Wilson?

Speaker 2 (08:28):
Because I I thought it was interesting the way that
kind of because in my mind, I'm thinking he's shorter,
he throws the ball, he has not as nowhere near
as prolific a passer as you, but certainly certain skill
sets that matched what he had with you. What yeah,

(08:50):
what you think when maybe you needed more time he
inherited a bad situation.

Speaker 3 (08:54):
What do you think I'd say?

Speaker 4 (08:56):
I'd say, just I've grown to when I I watch
as Sean Payton offense that I'm not a part of,
I still I still know what it's supposed to look like, right,
the timing, the tempo, the rhythm, and and I didn't
feel that it was and and no, and and so

(09:17):
you know, I don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Speaker 5 (09:18):
I don't know.

Speaker 4 (09:19):
You know, at the end of the day, you know,
as you take the you take the skill sets of
the guys you have, and then you put everybody in
the best position to win based on those skill sets.

Speaker 5 (09:27):
But I also know the things that Sean wants to do.

Speaker 4 (09:30):
I know the standard that he's set within his offense,
and this is the way it's supposed to operate.

Speaker 3 (09:35):
You think, get it there? I do.

Speaker 4 (09:38):
He has to no, I mean, but that's his personality, right,
I mean, I think he he loves challenges, right, and
he loves stepping into the situation where he has a
chance to build it and mold it. He's got a
great ownership group there that's going to give him whatever
resources he needs to do it. He's got some talent
in that building, he's got a great coaching staff, and
so he's he's gonna.

Speaker 5 (09:57):
Put it together.

Speaker 2 (09:59):
Let's get to the real business here, my guy. We
got these two beautiful trophies. I had the honor of
being able to see it last year with Josh Jacobs
FedEx Air Player of the Year award, and you have
the FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award you're presenting.

Speaker 3 (10:16):
Yeah, tell me all about it. Man.

Speaker 4 (10:17):
Well, I was fortunate enough to win four of these
throughout my career, tied for most of Peyton Manning. But
this is an awesome award that FedEx gives every year
and this is the first year though that the winners
are on the same team, so rock Perty FedEx Air
Player of the Year and Christian McCaffrey Feex Brown Player
of the Year. So I don't know if that's foreshadowing
for the game on Sunday, but this in addition to this,

(10:40):
they are donating twenty thousand dollars to each player to
be able to donate to the HPCU of their choice
for scholarship programs for deserving students.

Speaker 3 (10:49):
Awesome man, keep up the great work. Broker represent that ten.

Speaker 2 (10:53):
Yeah, you think they're going to be able to deal
with all the packs coming in?

Speaker 5 (10:56):
I like that a lot.

Speaker 3 (10:58):
You like it?

Speaker 5 (10:58):
Yeah, I think it just gives a Big ten more
exposure all across the Bay.

Speaker 3 (11:01):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (11:01):
I think it's good for the Back ten too, because
from a recruiting perspective, from the eyeballs that they're now
going to get, you know, playing these teams from the
Big ten and on the East Coast.

Speaker 5 (11:08):
I think it's a good thing all the way around.

Speaker 2 (11:11):
That's Drew Brees, everybody, the legend, the myth, the man
himself had honor of plan against him. Now I've had
the honor of interviewing him as well. So this is
up on game conversations with a legend. All right, we'll
be right back.
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