At Purdue, Drew Brees Became a Peyton Manning Fan
The year was 1998, Manning was a rookie in Indianapolis and Brees was the star quarterback at Purdue, 65 miles away. Brees said he was blown away that Manning befriended him and took the time to encourage him.
"I met Peyton when it was his first year in the NFL, after his first year with the Colts, so I guess I would've been going into my junior season at Purdue," Brees said. "We had actually met at a golf tournament, ended up playing golf together, and then after that he would call me occasionally during my season just to give me encouragement."
Brees also recalled a few times when he attended Colts games as a fan, just to get a look at Manning. He specifically noted a game in September 2005 when Manning completed 23 of 36 passes, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, in a 43-14 win over the Jaguars.
"I went up to Indianapolis and saw him play a Monday night game against Jacksonville," Brees said. "I remember the game like it was yesterday because he broke the franchise record for passing yards in a game, it was like 440 [yards], and then I went and saw them play the Titans in the playoffs one year. I had a chance to see him after the game, see him at different events here and there."
Brees, who came in third in Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, said he appreciated Manning for calling him to offer support during his final year at Purdue.
"One time, specifically, we came back and beat Ohio State my senior year, and sure enough I have a message on my phone from Peyton saying, 'Hey, I had a chance to watch the game. I'm really happy for you. Way to battle,'" Brees recalled. "For a young college player, here's Peyton Manning, second or third year in the league, already kind of coming into his own, Pro Bowl player, one of the best in the league, for him to kind of reach out to me like that meant a lot to me as a young player. Who would've thought 10 years from then we'd be sitting here playing in a Super Bowl against one another."