Kissimmee, Fla. – There was no surprise – not even the least bit – that while other NFC Pro Bowl players had moved on to another project or concluded their service on Friday, Drew Brees was the last player with his hands in the dirt.
His portion of the project wasn't complete to his satisfaction, and anyone who knows anything about Brees knows that he isn't much on leaving a task undone.
So – sans gloves – he carefully aligned plants inside the planter, then lifted and opened another 40-pound bag of soil to spread around the base of flowers he'd helped remove from their plastic encasings while a couple handfuls of kids provided assistance.
After the task repeated enough that the job satisfactorily was finished, the smiling Brees posed for a group photo.
The NFL obviously had a level of expectation in terms of participation Friday for its Pro Bowl player's day of service. But, per the usual, Brees went above and beyond at the Tupperware Brands Branch Boys and Girls Club in Kissimmee, Fla. The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
"Any chance we get to interact with kids, young people, especially the opportunity to do it through the Pro Bowl experience as well, I think it's just a way for us to touch another community," Brees said.
"Players are out throughout the community today serving in a bunch of different capacities. A bunch of players today were able to come to the Boys and Girls Club. I was involved in helping to build a butterfly garden – that's my first butterfly garden; I'm used to a vegetable garden. But we were planting flowers and we were doing some staining of the trellis and some building and refurbishing.
"It was a lot of fun, but also just to be around the kids, helping to mentor them. And just to see their smiling faces when they see that there's NFL players that have come to spend some time with them. I look at it as, 'These are my kids.' So, what would I want for someone to be able to impart on them as far as guidance, advice or mentorship. And so, really a fun way to interact with the community."
The interaction extended beyond the butterfly garden, to a brief throwing class. Brees' teammate, defensive end Cam Jordan, requested Brees' assistance to help straighten out a youngster's throwing motion.
"We had a passing tutorial earlier. It's fun," Brees said. "You're trying to give these kids a lasting memory. Boys and Girls clubs across the country do so many great things to provide that support for these kids, especially in a lot of cases, kids that would otherwise not really have maybe the most positive environment to go to. It gives them an environment that's very positive and obviously creates a lot of opportunity for them. We're just trying to add to that."
The relaxed atmosphere always is prevalent during the week for Brees, who is a Pro Bowl player for the 13th time in his career. He's joined by nine teammates; a 10th, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, won't play Sunday due to an injury.
"It's fun to be around the guys; obviously we've got a lot of Saints guys here," he said. "I think at times we could probably put together a huddle where we could just call our own plays and we'd be OK in this game.
"But also to interact with some guys that you see from afar around the league and you respect and admire. And obviously the family element, you've got Disney here in Orlando. And then, my kids having the chance to be around some of the guys that they look up to around the league is really cool."