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Brees gathers frat brothers to work, and play, in New Orleans

07:20 AM CDT on Friday, May 11, 2007

Brett Martel / Associated Press

Drew Brees decided his adopted hometown would be an ideal place for fraternity brothers to experience two key aspects of Greek life: Community service and partying.




Bill Haber / Associated Press

Drew Brees pulls on a nail while moving a railing at a home under construction at the Habitat for Humanity Musicians Village in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Brees arranged downtown hotel rooms for more than 75 Sigma Chi fraternity brothers from universities around the country and Canada so they could work on a handful of Habitat for Humanity houses in the city's "musician's village" in the upper 9th Ward.


In a still-reeling neighborhood that flooded during Hurricane Katrina, the fraternity brothers spent all week hammering nails and painting from the early morning until late afternoon, then were encouraged by Brees to enjoy their evenings in the French Quarter.


"I wanted them to walk away from this with the rewarding experience of working here, but also going to their friends, their fraternity brothers and their family and saying, 'Man, New Orleans is such a fun town. Go down there and experience what we experienced, because that city is a special one," Brees, who was a Sigma Chi at Purdue, said Thursday.


"I tell them all the great restaurants to go to, all the great things to experience, and obviously, they're college kids, so they're doing a little bit of partying," Brees said. "They're really soaking up all that New Orleans has to offer."


Slideshow: Brees, fraternity brothers in town to aid recovery
By choosing to play in storm-weary New Orleans as a free agent in 2006, and by often speaking publicly about how he's enjoyed living in the city's historic Uptown section, Brees became popular among local fans even before he helped the Saints reach their first ever NFC Championship game last season.


While Brees led the NFL in passing and made the Pro Bowl, he won accolades for his work off the field. He was the co-recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for contributions to the community.


Early last season, Brees and teammate Deuce McAllister hosted a cocktail party which raised money to restore Pan American Stadium, a flood-damaged high school football field. He donated time to help landscape a school and helped renovate an NFL-sponsored youth center. He restored a van belonging to Children's Hospital, read to children, gave away 300 bicycles at Christmas, appeared in televised public service announcements and served as the pitchman for a line of fleur-de-lis jewelry, the sales of which generated money for charitable causes.


Next weekend, he and several teammates will take more than 30 patients from Children's Hospital, some of them fighting cancer, on a fishing trip to the small town of Venice, near the mouth of the Mississippi River.


"Again, we're promoting some of the best things about New Orleans. It's a sportsman's paradise -- some of the best fishing in the country," Brees said. "And when you see the look on these kids faces when they catch a fish ... some of them have never caught a fish in their life, and sometimes that's the best therapy, as good as any medicine you could give them."


Brees, who also traveled to the Middle East during this offseason to meet with American soldiers, wore camouflage shorts and a similar hat as he pounded away at nails on a hot, sunny day. He said he decided to forgo helping with roof work, citing the Saints' first minicamp coming up in less than a month.


McAllister and tight end Mark Campbell also stopped by to thank the volunteers, pose for pictures and sign autographs.


Meanwhile, the quarterback also has his Brees Dream Foundation joining with a group called Operation Kids to raise $2 million for various other projects around the city.


"We've got about six projects here in town we've identified -- schools or parks or fields that we're trying to renovate -- just to help kids," he said.


The homes they worked on this week are modest but cheerful looking one-story units, similar to the long, narrow "shotgun double" homes that historically stood in the neighborhood. They have small front porches and are brightly painted. The new homes remain surrounded by unoccupied, gutted homes with overgrown grounds, water-stained siding and torn-up roofs.


"It's surprising. I've never seen anything like it before," said Purdue student Chris Springstun, who'll be a senior next fall. "I'm sure people come down here all the time and do things like Drew's doing ... but if more people who have credibility like he does do that kind of stuff you'll get more people down here. You'll get more projects started."


He said he was grateful to Brees for providing an opportunity for him to help rebuild the area. The students in his group had to pay their own way to New Orleans, but Brees, through an array of bartering agreements, took care of most meals, transportation and lodging.


On Thursday, Brees talked the owner of one of his favorite restaurants into sending charbroiled oysters to the work site at lunchtime.


"It would be hard for me to say no to Drew," said Tommy Cvitanovich, whose family runs the popular Drago's restaurant.


Cvitanovich said he wanted both to thank the volunteers and help Brees promote New Orleans.


"The best way they can help our city," Cvitanovich said of the volunteers, "is going back and telling their friends to come back and spend a weekend. Nothing helps this city more than letting us earn our keep now."


(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved
 

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NIce to hear.
 

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I thought that this thread was going to be about another NFL idiot with too much money beating his girlfriend or smoking crack, very nice to read this article about a guy that very much has his head on his shoulders and is doing something positive with his celebrity :D His parents should be very proud, and not of his NFL career!
 

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Best story about an pro sport player I have read in a long time!(football or basketball) :D
 

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Drew is still doing going things around San Diego. He raises funds for local projects with his celebrity golf tournament. He is a class guy. He has always been confident in his abilities without bragging about them.
 

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Dogtrainer4God said:
Best story about an pro sport player I have read in a long time!(football or basketball) :D
The problem is not that they are not out there, the problem is that the story is not as good in the medias eyes as it is when someone with their money or fame crash and burn. There are a lot of BIG TIME charitable people out there that do not get, and often do not want press. The media assumes, and maybe is backed up by their research (???), that people don’t want “good news” stories anymore, just bad. Bad sells I guess be it in Iraq, the USA, Democrats, Republicans, or about a athlete. I have seen some media outlets that go so far as to tell you “and now for our good news story of the day”. We as a nation love to point fingers and place blame, I guess we find it much more fun than saying someone is doing good. Kind of sad really.
 

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Rather than edit I will add a new post.
To give credit where credit is due. NBC nightly News just ran a story about LeRoy Butler of the Packers helping out people with cancer and other problems that cannot afford their medicine. It was prefaced with something to the nature of “now for some good news”, but a positive story on a national media outlet none the less.
 

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Drew Brees is good role model for others and is a true Saint -- and not like other sports "stars" who go around throwing wild parties at strip clubs or having relatives raise dogs for fighting or being arrested for weapons possession -- much less smoking dope and/or drinking & driving -- here's to Drew and hopefully a great year for New Orleans Saints
 
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