Quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints addresses the media during the VISA Financial Football Press Event at the Media Center on January 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS (USA TODAY) -- Drew Brees is an NFL quarterback and a very good one.
This week, he is in another familiar and comfortable role - ambassador
for a once-devastated city he helped revitalize.
The Brees-led New
Orleans Saints won their first and only Super Bowl after the 2009
season, four years after the deadly effects of Hurricane Katrina
transformed the area into the USA's costliest natural disaster.
is the 10th Super Bowl that the port city along the lower Mississippi
River, famous for its rhythm and blues scene and Cajun cuisine, will
host. The Super Bowl had not been held here since 2002.
it comes to the Big Easy, the record-setting quarterback sounds as if
he works for the chamber of commerce. Or like a future mayoral
"I think it's awesome ... the perfect place to host a
Super Bowl," the Super Bowl XLIV MVP said this week as he scooted around
town to participate in various charitable, philanthropic and news media
Appearing at Visa's Financial Football program, the
highest-paid player in NFL history advised young students about money
matters, recalling his mistakes while at Purdue.
"I got in a situation where, all of a sudden, I couldn't pay my
cellphone bill," Brees said. "My phone then broke, stopped working. I
decided since it wasn't working, I didn't have to pay my cellphone
anymore. When I left college, I had about $2,000 in cellphone bills I
had not paid."
Brees said he learned his lesson when he went to
buy his first home in San Diego after the Chargers drafted him and the
lending institution wanted to charge him a higher interest rate because
of his delinquent phone bill.
"I could go out and drive a Ferrari if I wanted to," Brees said. "I drive a Chevy Tahoe."
34-year-old seven-time Pro Bowler still has a home in Southern
California in the offseason. But New Orleans has adopted the Austin
native as one of its own.
feeling is mutual. Brees was a community leader in bringing back a
dispirited citizenry, and he remains one of New Orleans' most highly
respected residents and biggest promoters.
"Look at the way the
downtown is designed - the proximity of the Superdome, the hotels, the
French Quarter, the Convention Center," Brees said. "We're going to have
beautiful weather. The city looks as good as it's ever looked. I know
the city has been extremely excited about hosting everybody.
a city that knows how to throw a party, a (city) that knows how to give
some of that Southern hospitality. The culture and charm here is
So is Brees' enthusiasm - with one exception this week.
of the familiar fleur-de-lis of his Saints, the Baltimore Ravens and
San Francisco 49ers will occupy the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for Super
"Of course, we'd love to be here playing this game,"
Brees said. "It's hard to imagine someone else playing in the dome other
Jon Saraceno, USA TODAY Sports