Having now called it a career, Drew Brees has firmly etched himself as one of the greatest passers to ever play the sport of football. But before he was a star at the professional level — first for the then-San Diego Chargers and then, for more than a decade, the New Orleans Saints — Brees headlined the Purdue football program, and his journey to West Lafayette wasn’t exactly one that he expected during the course of his recruitment.
In a recent video interview alongside Cam Jordan and Mark Ingram that was posted by The Players’ Tribune, Brees told the story of how he ultimately wound up playing football in Big Ten Country, something that might not have happened had it not been for the combination of a serious injure and developments within the college football coaching carousel after the 1996 season.
As Brees recalled, it wasn’t until January of his senior year that Purdue first contacted, and when he did make it official to play for the Boilermakers, football wasn’t even the first sport on his mind.
“I think in high school, I listed myself as 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. In reality, I was 6-foot, 190 and with a big ole’ knee brace on my left knee because I had torn my ACL at the end of my junior year playing football. So you want to know how I ended up at Purdue: It was because I tore my ACL at the end of my junior season in the third round of the playoffs — I missed all the basketball season and baseball season. That’s when you get recruited, you get eyes on you, and I got nothing. Crickets, because I didn’t play.