Associated Press

‘Be the same guy every day’: Drew Brees shares tips for successful leadership with Utah audience

By Liesl Nielsen, KSL.com | Updated - Mar 20th, 2019 @ 5:10pm | Posted - Mar 20th, 2019 @ 4:20pm



SALT LAKE CITY — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has one rule. When he huddles up with his team, that’s his huddle. He leads.

Once during a game about a decade ago, one of the Saints’ coaches butted in to the huddle and started berating a “younger guy” about the way he was playing, Brees told conference goers at Domo’s annual event in Salt Lake City Wednesday.

Brees grabbed the coach and threw him out of the huddle saying, “I got it!” When he turned back around, the player looked at Brees and said, “No one’s going to touch you!”

“I let that (player) know that ‘I got you,’ and in return, he was going to let me know he had my back,’” Brees said. “That’s what forms the brotherhood. And I won a world championship a year later with that guy.”

While he doesn’t recommend throwing your supervisor out of the office, it’s important to let the team know you care, he said.

But for Brees, a successful leader needs to do more than just care, they need to be consistent, he said.

“Be the same guy every day. … I want my car to be the first thing (my teammates) see when they pull in every day so they know their quarterback is there working to make them successful.”

Brees said he respects that kind of consistency in other players as well. It helps him trust their process and know that they’re giving it their all.

Choosing the Saints

After dislocating his shoulder joint while playing for the then-San Diego Chargers, Brees thought he might be done with football. In fact, the doctor told him his shoulder wouldn’t ever feel the same again.

“It’s amazing how God has a plan (though), and I had to trust him,” Brees said.

Soon after his injury, Brees had a choice between joining the Miami Dolphins or the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans, however, was still dealing with devastation from Hurricane Katrina, and new Saints head coach Sean Payton knew he’d have to do some convincing to persuade Brees that this was a good place to live and raise a family.

Payton told Brees he’d take him through his neighborhood — a picturesque area exactly like what Brees was searching for. But on the way back, Payton got lost and began turning onto roads that looked like “a warzone,” Brees said.

Boats and trucks were overturned in the road. Everything was destroyed. Payton later told his future quarterback he felt he might as well just gift wrap Brees and hand him to the Dolphins.

“Little did he know that my wife and I were sitting in the back looking at each and realizing that us being there was more than just about football. It was about being part of the resurgence of one of America’s greatest cities,” Brees said.

Payton, too, was different from what Brees expected. He assumed the new head coach would be a “my-way-or-the-highway” kind of man, especially with so much pressure on him and a lot to prove.

His first day in Payton’s office, however, Brees noticed some of his old plays included in Payton’s offensive strategy. Payton explained that he had been studying him and wanted to make their effort a collaboration between the two.

“I love Sean, and I love his aggressive nature. I think that instills confidence in us,” Brees laughed.

Liesl Nielsen

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