Yesterday was just a regular November Monday morning around my house, right?
It was 6:30am and I stepped out on the front porch with a cup of joe to see if the Christmas lights and garland that I hung up on Sunday (don’t judge me) made it through the night’s brutal winds. My 2 1/2 year old son, Charlie was already tugging at my pajamas holding a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD that he wanted me to put on. I picked him up and threw him in the shower with me. I got him dressed for preschool and by that time my 4-year old daughter was up, so I braided her hair and added a bow that matched her leggings.
My 7-month pregnant wife was up and getting ready for work while I took the troops downstairs to fix some breakfast, helped Ava practice tracing her numbers and packed two lunches. I took their backpacks to my wife’s car and started it up, turned on the heat, got it nice and toasty. It was the usual chaos of ‘my seatbelt is too tight’ or ‘I forgot to pee, daddy’ but eventually I lobbed out some kisses, shut the car doors and they sped off.
I took the dog for a quick jog and started to panic and when he took a dump in the neighbors front yard. I’ll be back to pick that one up later, my friend. I took a few minutes to watch some news segments on Veteran’s Day, think about my Grandfathers and Uncle who all served our country with honor. As well as the men and women who dedicate their lives every day to protecting our freedoms.
I started the dishwasher and hopped into my office to try and tackle a new angle on parenting, to try and find the humor in what can sometimes be monotonous and frustrating. But I didn’t have to look very far.
A few weeks ago, I got a call asking if I’d like to interview the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees. Ahhh….huh? After confirming it wasn’t my brother messing with me, I was in. Let’s do this.
So what does Super Bowl winning quarterback Drew Brees and Dad or Alive blogger Adrian Kulp have in common? More than you might think…
For starters, we both love football. We’ve both written a book. And we’re both proud fathers.
ADRIAN: Hey Drew, how are ya, man?
DREW: I’m doing great man, how are you?
ADRIAN: First off, it’s great to get the opportunity to talk to you for a few minutes. I have to say that, being born and raised as a Philadelphia Eagles fan…even though you’ve got some roots in Dallas, I’ve gotta thank and congratulate you on last night’s demolition of the Cowboys.
DREW: (brief pause, then laughs)
ADRIAN: So, let’s talk. We all know about your success with the San Diego Chargers and now the Saints. We know about the dozens of awards you’ve received and records that you’ve smashed over your 12 years in the league. From what I understand, you married your college sweetheart, Brittaney, and you guys have a few kids. What are their names and how old are they now?
DREW: So Baylen is our oldest, he’s four and a half, actually, he’ll turn five in January. Bowen is three and Callen and fifteen months.
ADRIAN: So… I grew up as one of three boys. I’ve got one son now and another on the way. I love competitive sports, football included. I want to give my sons the opportunity to chose their passions and while I love the game, I watch some of the recent stories about head injuries. You’ve got big guys like Tony Dorsett and Brett Favre coming forward with concerns about their memory. Obviously the league officials are paying attention to this and making strides to make the sport safer without losing what we truly love about battle on the gridiron. AS A PLAYER, are you optimistic about their ability to achieve that and AS A FATHER, do you feel comfortable allowing your kids to get out there and play?
DREW: Yeah, you know, it’s definitely something we need to be concerned with and aware of and I think we’re in a much different day and age now in regards to what we know compared to twenty years ago when a lot of those guys played. I think the mentality has changed somewhat in regards to how we handle those injuries. I think that in the past, it was ‘you get right back in there, tough it out and play’, but obviously when you’re talking about head and neck and long-term conditions that can arise from those types of injuries, it’s a very serious deal.
So I think we know so much more now and we’ve put in different kinds of parameters as to, you know, being able to detect those things, as well as the ‘return to play’ protocols after you do suffer a head injury. Guys aren’t just going right back onto the field anymore, they’re being evaluated immediately on the sideline, being taken inside, they have to pass a neurological test again before being able to return to play and if they can’t, then they’re out and not allowed to play the following week or two weeks later until they go through a number of tests.
So there are a lot more things in place that weren’t in the past, those things can be detected and treated, so we’ve come a long way in that regard, but there’s still a lot more to do and certainly a lot more we need to do to take care of those former players who are suffering from CTE, early-onset Alzheimers and ALS… that kind of thing that might be attributed to some of the head injuries they suffered as players.
As far as me being a father and thinking about my kids playing sports, you know – listen – there are dangers and elements to every sport, injury risks with every sport that you just have to be aware of as a parent and I’d say with football, I didn’t play tackle football until 9th grade. I probably wouldn’t let my kids strap on the pads and helmet ’til middle school, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play flag football or play whatever they want.
I’m not gonna push them to play anything, I want them to do what their passion is and I certainly want to expose them to as much as I can as a father. I just want to give them that diverse perspective, but I’m certainly not gonna push them to do anything they don’t wanna do. I think there’s probably an appropriate age to strap on the pads but so much of youth football is the coach, teaching proper techniques. Pop Warner, high school and colleges are following the NFL’s lead now on how to be mindful of the injury risks that come with football and if there’s a kid that gets dinged during a game, you immediately pull him out and put him on a week or two week hiatus before he’s ready to get back in there. The days of ‘tough it out and get back in there’ after getting dinged are over.
ADRIAN: Over the past few years, we’ve both had some opportunities to work with some great brands, me as a blogger and you as an athlete and idol for many – Tide being one of those brands. I love that you were able to do some of these TV spots with your family and in a few, I see you loading up that washer — as a stay-at-home dad right now, I’ve been logging some serious hours on that machine, but really, how often does a Super Bowl winning QB find himself in the laundry room?
DREW: Okay, first… are you a Tide with Febreeze Sport kinda guy?
ADRIAN: Dude, I totally am. How did you guess?
DREW: (laughing) I love it. So am I. I do my part, you know… during the season it’s a bit more tough because I’m at the facility a lot and my wife, Brittany, carries the brunt of taking care of the kids, doing the laundry and doing everything, I just take out the trash (laughing).
But no, I’m no stranger to the laundry room.
We’ve had a tremendous relationship with Tide now for the last few years, they’re a great family brand and I love the fact that we’ve been able to incorporate the family into the commercials. Everything that’s taking place in those spots is pretty much a normal day in the Brees household. There’s nothing fabricated, they’re very authentic, whether it’s me chasing Baylen or the dog around the house, washing Brittany’s hot yoga pants or whatever (laughs).
So that’s been a great relationship and obviously the big thing now is that I’m one of the 32 Tide color captains, one for each team around the league. Really, whats it’s all about is celebrating our fans passion for their colors, ya know the Saints black and gold is a lot different than the Steelers black and gold or whatever you call their yellow, so we gotta make sure those colors stay true and true to form and color when they’re getting washed repeatedly during the season. Because if they’re anything like my kids, they’re wearing their jerseys five times a week, they can take a beating, that’s why this is such a great campaign with Tide.
From a social media standpoint, I’ve been tweeting out pictures of our family and fans just showing their colors and pride in our team and we’re encouraging everyone to follow @TideNFL and use the #ourcolors when you’re showing your fan support for your team.
ADRIAN: I really dig the campaign and can’t wait to share if with my audience…
Now, if I haven’t talked about the Super Bowl enough, I remember you holding your son, Baylen, on the field after winning the championship game in 2010. It could’ve been one of the most touching father and son moments I’ve seen…maybe ever. Watching you fight back the emotion – what was it like being able to share that with your son and do you think he’ll appreciate it’s magnitude when he gets older?
DREW: Yeah, I think he will probably understand or appreciate it a little more when he gets older. It will forever be one of the greatest moments of my life, to be able to share that with him. Not only just the accomplishment of the Super Bowl victory and the game itself, or how far we’ve come as a team and a city to reach that point, but obviously to be able to share that with him… that was always my dream.
To be able to have my wife and a son at 1-year old able to be there to share that moment… little did we know that it was being captured on an international stage. We were just up on the trophy stage enjoying that moment together, not as if we were the only two people on Earth but that was a great moment, but now I’ve got two more boys and hopefully we’ll go for another, but I’m gonna have to win a few more Super Bowls to keep up some of that action.
ADRIAN: That’s just amazing, man. As I mentioned earlier, I’m about to become a father for the third time in January. I’ve got a 4-year old and a 2-year old, but it’s been a minute since I’ve been in the OR at the hospital and I’ll get to relive what it’s like to be a new dad again. As a father, what’s the one thing that’s surprised or inspired you most about your kids?
DREW: Hmmm, wow. That’s a good question. Surprised or inspired…
I’m amazed at just how smart they are and how much they absorb, like when we think they’re not listening… THEY ARE LISTENING. And you may not hear it right then, but like, a week later, you’ll hear something come out of their mouth and you’ll be, like, ‘where did you hear that’ and they say ‘you said that a week ago’. (laughing)
Oh yeah, I think that’s where it gets crazy, they’re like sponges – it’s a good thing and a bad thing, you gotta watch everything you do or say because they are watching!
ADRIAN: Drew, I truly appreciate you taking the time to talk, especially after we were both up past midnight last night. Finally, for those fans of the ‘Who Dat’ Nation – what are thinking about next week against the Niners?
DREW: Big game. Biggest game of the year. These guys have beat us the last two years and we gotta find a way to beat these guys, but they’re very, very good.
ADRIAN: I appreciate you taking the time, I wish you luck brother, thanks Drew.
Follow Drew and all of your favorite NFL team color captains on Twitter and @TideNFL.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adrian Kulp is a blogger, author, TV producer and full-time stay-at-home dad. His first book for Penguin Publishing, a comedic parenting memoir, debuted in May of 2013. He currently writes Dad or Alive, as well as for The Huffington Post. He’s a member of Target’s Inner Circle and a contributor to Kids in the House. He most recently produced ‘Modern Dads’ for A&E.