How Drew Brees Became "Cool Brees"

Steve Kroft Profiles The Super Bowl MVP

In the annals of professional sports, few athletes have ever been as loved, admired and respected by their hometown fans as Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

In New Orleans they call him "Cool Brees" or "Breejus," for resurrecting a devastated city, reviving a half dead franchise and leading them to the Super Bowl championship. And at a time when a few high profile NFL stars are serving jail time or suspensions for criminal or unacceptable conduct, Brees' activism and philanthropy have served to remind critics of big time sports that the news is not always bad.

In a nine-year NFL career, Brees has often been underappreciated and overlooked, but he is he is finally being recognized for what he is: an under-sized athletic freak, who in the past four years has completed more passes and thrown far more yardage than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Bret Farve.

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Asked who the best quarterback in the NFL is, Brees joked with correspondent Steve Kroft, "Is this like if you're voting for student council president and you can't vote for yourself?"

"No, you can vote for yourself," Kroft replied.

Brees is much too smart to answer the question, but he is clearly pleased to finally be included in the conversation. In fact you can hear of talk around the league that he is not only the NFL's top passer, but maybe its best player.

And the person who seems to be the least surprised is Brees himself: "I'm a very modest person. But I am also extremely confident. And if you put me in the situation or in the moment, I'm gonna have some swagger, I'm gonna have some cockiness. And you know, there's not anything, I don't think, that I can do or accomplish."

In fact, he pretty much proved that everywhere he's been. But it took a long time to convince people and there were lots of obstacles to be overcome.

At six feet tall, football experts always considered him too short to be a big time quarterback, not big enough to see over the on-rushing linemen and to spot receivers downfield.

"I don't believe that you can be too short as a quarterback. It's not about height. It's about what you have here and right here," he told Kroft, pointing to his heart and head.

And in his case it's about more than just heart and brains: it's about agility, and accuracy. Last year the program "Sports Science" ran a segment showing him throwing ten passes at an archer's target, and hitting the bullseye dead center all ten times.

But most of all, it's about Brees' athleticism and a skill package that has allowed him to master every sport he has ever tried.

"You were a pretty good tennis player, right?" Kroft asked. "Against people that turned out to be pretty good professional players."

"I was going to let you bring that up. I know Andy Roddick's probably tired about me talking about how many times I beat him when we were kids. I beat him the first three times, and he beat me the last time in pretty convincing fashion," Brees replied.

"So you retired," Kroft remarked.

"I knew that my direction in life was going elsewhere," Brees replied.

When he grew up in Texas, the only sport that mattered was football. And Brees somehow managed to lead Austin's Westlake High School to the state championship. Not one of the big Texas universities ever offered a scholarship.

So he went to Purdue, where he was a two-time all-American and Heisman Trophy finalist and shattered virtually every Big Ten passing record on the books.

Asked if he gets some personal satisfaction out of that, Brees told Kroft, laughing, "There's always a little bit of personal satisfaction when you prove somebody wrong."