Matt Mitrione Shares Purdue Story About Drew Brees

Long before Mitrione was an MMA fighter, he was Brees' teammate at Purdue – and he knew his quarterback was destined for greatness

April 23, 2020 - 9:42 am
Drew Brees Purdue

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Long before Matt Mitrione was an MMA fighter, he was a defensive tackle for Purdue. In fact, he played with Drew Brees – and he knew that the future Super Bowl champion was destined for greatness.

“I’ll tell you what’s amazing about Drew Brees,” Mitrione began on JR SportBrief. “No. 1, I have never seen someone that studied and understood like that dude. Intellectually, he’s really gifted, but just in general, that dude prepares and he understands and he gets nuance like most people I’ve never seen before, especially in sport. It’s really impressive. And the second part is he is shockingly competitive. Like, abnormally competitive.”

That might be because Brees had to prove himself every step of the way.

“This dude was the third quarterback taken in our recruiting class – third quarterback taken,” Mitrione said. “There was some dude named Jimmy Mitchell and some dude named Ben Smith. Drew comes walking in with an ACL brace on from West Lake, and dude, he would just not be denied. He’s just that type of dude.”

Mitrione likened college Drew Brees to college Peyton Manning.

“I can’t remember who it was – it might have been Jim Irsay – but . . . Peyton straight told [Irsay], ‘Look, if you do not take me, I will make you regret every time you play me,’” Mitrione recalled. “It was that confidence, that arrogance, he had.”

Brees had the same thing.

“There was a time we were playing Ohio State at Purdue and Drew threw an interception and there was like two minutes left in the game and that pretty much made it so we were not going to win,” Mitrione said of the 2000 showdown. “Drew was so mad at himself that he ran over to Mike Doss and he tackled Mike Doss on the 15- or 20-yard line going in, and Drew said this to the media: he literally threw his body in the way with his head leading because he wanted to knock himself out because he was so angry at himself. So you have that mentality – you’re so angry, you’re trying to knock yourself out so you don’t have to live with the frustration and disappointment of what you just did.”

But here’s the thing: That interception didn’t cost Purdue the game. Brees came right back on the next possession and threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to give Purdue a 31-27 win.

“That showed the type of character and competitive nature that dude has,” Mitrione said. “Not many people can do that, and to me, that’s what separated him from everybody else in the game.”