Report: Drew Brees expected to join NBC's Notre Dame football broadcasts after retirement

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

NBC Sports Group’s broadcasts of Notre Dame football home games could look much different in the coming years.

Adding New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expected to become a new wrinkle in NBC’s coverage of Irish football, according to a report from the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.

“When Brees retires from the Saints,” the report read, “he is expected to start as a game analyst on Notre Dame football and as a studio analyst for ‘Football Night in America.’”

Brees, 41, signed a two-year, $50 million deal this offseason, but he could retire after the 2020 season. What his role on Notre Dame’s broadcasts would look like remains unknown.

It’s unclear whether his hiring will change or lead to the termination of the roles of NBC’s other on-air talent, such as analyst Doug Flutie.

An NBC Sports spokesperson declined to offer specifics in a statement provided to the Tribune.

“Like all NFL fans, we look forward to watching Drew continue his Hall of Fame career this fall, and we are confident his post-playing career will be just as successful,” the statement read.

Some Notre Dame fans have expressed contempt toward Flutie’s job as color commentator. The former Boston College quarterback assumed the role in 2014 and has been joined by play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico since the 2017 season.

The traditional pairing of Tirico and Flutie had already begun to look different.

Chris Simms joined the broadcast in a supplemental role last season, offering insights throughout games from the sidelines. NBC also experimented with the SkyCam feature — a camera hoisted 40 feet in the air that captured the game from a different angle.

A panel comprising NBC’s Ahmed Fareed, Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes, former Irish running back Darius Walker and Notre Dame alum and Sports Illustrated producer Jessica Smetana were featured on an NBC Sports Network broadcast of ND’s Nov. 23 home game against Boston College.

NBC announced the hiring of another on-air talent in March, Jac Collinsworth. The 2017 Notre Dame graduate and son of NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth is expected to be involved with Irish football. Former Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson may also contribute after NBC hired him as a reporter and digital correspondent in January.

According to Marchand, Tirico is in line to succeed Al Michaels as Cris Collinsworth’s play-by-play partner on the Sunday NFL telecasts.

Tirico will leave Notre Dame’s broadcast booth and assume the role once Michaels’ contract ends following the 2022 Super Bowl, Marchand reported. Brees will be groomed to replace Cris Collinsworth.

How NBC’s broadcasts will look in the meantime could be fluid.

Like Flutie, Brees is familiar with the Irish after playing them multiple times in college. In three games against Notre Dame, the former Purdue standout went a combined 61-of-98 passing for 799 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions.

The Boilermakers lost two of those contests — in 1998 (31-30) and 2000 (23-21) — but won in 1999 (28-23).

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 18, 2018.