“There’s something more to him than just football.”

By Meghan Overdeep
February 09, 2021
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Joe Delery has been attending the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Rita Catholic Church in New Orleans every day for years.

The retired New Orleans police officer recently spoke to the Clarion Herald about the celebrity who joined him for a period of time.

"I get there typically about a half-hour before Mass and watch everybody come in, and also to tell everybody 'good morning,'" Delery, a lifelong Catholic, told reporter Peter Finney Jr. "I've kind of thought that that was my job, my ministry, like the schoolteacher opening up the school for the kids. It's also my way of actually starting my day on a really great high note, telling everyone 'good morning.' No matter how bad the day before was, it was a really great way to start the day."

Delery has a well-trained eye, which is why he noticed when, a few years ago, a young man started coming to St. Rita's around the same time as he did in the mornings.  

The mystery man dressed in shorts and sneakers. He sat in the same back pew and always left right before Mass started.

Then one day Delery said he did a double take. Though he looked different without his football gear, the birthmark on the man's face was a dead giveaway: it was Drew Brees.

Drew Brees
Credit: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

"Every day, he would come in very unassuming, very quietly, and kneel all the way in the back on the right side, in the same spot," Delery recalled to the Clarion Herald. "You could tell he was extremely focused, extremely intense, from the standpoint of having his mind set on what he was going to do, and he wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that."

"It was his time with God. He was spending time with God in prayer, and then when he finished, he would walk out and just go his way," he added.

As word about the mystery man's identity spread, Delery said that St. Rita parishioners were careful to respect Brees' privacy and prayer time. Though now that the Saints quarterback has stopped attending, Delery is lobbying to have a brass plaque that reads "Drew Brees used to kneel here" put on that back pew.

"There's something more to him than just football," he told the Clarion Herald. "We all believe that we're kind of the masters of our own destiny, that we don't owe anything to anybody, including the higher power. To see this guy—who I can't tell you how much money he makes—come in and have that quiet time before practice was very inspirational. He did it not for any fanfare. Nobody knew he was doing it. It wasn't broadcast. He wasn't doing it to be seen, that's for sure."

Brees, as it turns out, isn't even Catholic.