Drew Brees’ Incredible Attention to Detail Helps Explain His Continued NFL Success
Whether you’re a diehard NFL fan or a passionate fantasy football player, you know all about Drew Brees. While the veteran quarterback might not look like a physical specimen, he’s a prolific passer; you don’t throw for more than 77,000 yards by accident. The signal-caller’s success, however, doesn’t only stem from his arm strength.
Even when he isn’t on the field, Drew Brees has incredible attention to detail. While his routines might seem excessive to the average fan, they’ve helped him keep playing at a high level, even at age 41.
Drew Brees’ successful NFL career
These days, it’s almost impossible to imagine Drew Brees playing for anyone other than the New Orleans Saints. The veteran quarterback, however, started his career in much different surroundings.
After bursting onto the scene in college—he couldn’t land any big-time offers, but took charge of an explosive Purdue offense—Brees entered the 2001 NFL draft. Despite his impressive NCAA stats, scouts and general managers worried that he was too small to run a professional offense; consequently, the quarterback slipped into the second round, where the Chargers snagged him with the 32nd-overall pick.
While Brees eventually took over as the Chargers starting quarterback, he couldn’t rest on his laurels just yet. San Diego drafted Philip Rivers in 2004; Brees managed to keep hold of his job but, in 2005, suffered a career-threatening shoulder injury.
With limited job prospects, Brees then joined the New Orleans Saints; that move changed the course of NFL history. Fifteen seasons later, the quarterback is still going strong with over 77,576 passing yards and 549 touchdowns under his belt. The Saints have also turned into the class of the NFC South, claiming victory in Super Bowl 44.
Drew Brees loves numbers and uses them to build the perfect routine
It goes without saying that Drew Brees lives and breathes football. The quarterback has another passion, though: numbers.
As Kent Babb explained in a 2018 Washington Post story, Brees loved math and numbers. He set statistical goals for himself and doing whatever he could to reach the next numerical milestone. “I just started seeing these numbers,” the quarterback explained, “and visualizing these numbers and having to hit these numbers, setting goals toward these numbers, and that just became a way to set a goal and benchmarks to achieve.”
Even in the NFL, that love of numbers still influences the quarterback’s routine. Brees is “constantly counting,” trying to fit a specific number of tasks into a block of time; together, those blocks make a full day.
“There were 24 hours in each day, no arguing that either, and so Brees began assigning tasks to certain days and hours,” Babb explained. “On Tuesday mornings he allows himself ‘quiet time’: two hours to answer emails, complete personal tasks, read a few pages of the 20 or so books he hopes to eventually get to. Wednesdays are about film study: specifically, first and second downs and the running game plan. Thursday is dedicated to third downs, and Fridays are devoted to red zone, short yardage and goal line plays. Saturdays, usually close to an off day for NFL players, have their unique responsibilities, too.”
That routine helps the quarterback keep performing at a high level
To an outside observer, Drew Brees’ routine probably sounds exhausting. That attention to detail, however, can help explain the quarterback’s continued defiance of Father Time.
Beyond the obvious benefits—regimented film study and game preparation can only help on Sunday—the routine also gives the quarterback a sense of comfort. With everything else accounted for, Brees can focus entirely on football.
“I know where I’m going to be at a specific time,” Brees said. “I know what I’m going to be doing; I know what needs to be accomplished for me to feel confident and go out there and play at the highest level.”
It goes without saying that Drew Brees is an incredibly talented quarterback. His intense preparation and attention to detail, however, help explain why he’s still going strong at age 41.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference