Drew Brees is ready for the next chapter after a legendary NFL career.
The retired New Orleans Saints superstar quarterback announced exclusively on TODAY Monday that he is joining NBC Sports as a studio analyst for Football Night in America and a game analyst for NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football.
He also will work at some of NBC Sports' other prominent events, including Super Bowl LVI and the Olympics.
"I'm part of the team now, a new team," Brees said. "I'm excited about that journey. I'm excited to stay very closely connected with the game of football, it's been such an important part of my life.
"I continue to be able to talk about it, show a passion for it, and be able to bring my kids along for the ride there as well, and let them be part of those special moments."
"We’re excited to have Drew join our team,” Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports Group, said in a statement. "We know that Drew will apply the same work ethic and continuously positive attitude to everything he touches at NBC Sports and we know, as his new teammates, he’ll make us better."
"After 20 years as a player in the NFL and 15 years as a Saint, it is time I retire from the game of football," he said in a caption alongside an adorable video featuring his four kids revealing the news.
"Each day, I poured my heart & soul into being your Quarterback," he continued. "Til the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints organization, my team, and the great city of New Orleans. We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us. You have molded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories."
In his final season, Brees led the Saints to the playoffs, losing to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their own legendary quarterback, Tom Brady, in the NFC divisional round.
"I think going into the season I felt like this was going to be it, and let's go get it," he said on TODAY.
The future Hall of Famer's retirement came 15 years to the day he signed with the Saints following four seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers that ended with a serious shoulder injury in his last game in 2005. His signing also came just months after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
He recalled touring New Orleans with his wife in the wake of the wreckage from Hurricane Katrina as he was mulling over whether to sign with the team. At one point, he and head coach Sean Payton got lost on their way back to the team facility and saw a tugboat sitting in the middle of the street.
"That was the moment where Brittany and I looked at each other and said this is so much more than just football," he said. "This is part of the resurrection and resurgence of one of America's greatest cities, and we have a chance to be a part of this."
The 13-time Pro Bowler finished his career as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (80,358) and second all time in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7%).
"That's a decision where you don't just wake up one day and say, hey I'm gonna retire," he said. "It's definitely a process. I'm 42 years old, I've had a chance to play this game for 20 years in the NFL. I think for the last few years I felt like this moment was coming, and it just made me so laser-focused on staying in the moment each and every day."
He became a legendary figure in New Orleans in the 2009 season when he helped lead the Saints to their only Super Bowl title as part of the revival of the franchise in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Brees and his wife have become fixtures in the community, most recently announcing last March that they would be donating $5 million to various charities that would prepare and deliver 10,000 meals daily throughout Louisiana to help those in need during the pandemic.
He and his wife also established the Brees Dream Foundation in 2003, which has contributed more than $45 million to help improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care for children and families in need. In 2006, Brees won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his excellence on and off the field.
Brees said he will be announcing more philanthropic endeavors in the coming months.
"I'll be honest, I am most excited about those things because I think that's where we can make the biggest impact," he said.
His interview with Hoda on Monday came almost exactly a year after he spoke to her at the beginning of the pandemic about the struggles of a city that has always held a special place in her heart. The TODAY anchor became overwhelmed with emotion after speaking with Brees about his generous donation as the pandemic was hitting the city hard.
Hoda worked as an anchor and reporter for a CBS affiliate in New Orleans from 1992-98 and has maintained close ties to the city, serving as grand marshal at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2016 and passionately rooting for Brees and the Saints each NFL season.