The Biloxi Sun Herald
By: Melissa M. Scallan
September 14, 2010
BAY ST. LOUIS -- Drew Brees was a junior at Purdue University when he got his first cell phone and decided not to pay the bill because it didn't work properly.
During his first year in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, when Brees purchased his first home, his interest rate was higher because he hadn't paid that bill.
Brees visited Bay High School on Monday and told students it's important for them to learn now how to make good financial decisions.
"When I got in the real world, I felt like I was so unprepared financially," the New Orleans Saints quarterback said. "I want to make sure you're ready for this as you move forward."
Brees and state Treasurer Tate Reeves introduced a group of 50 student athletes to a video game titled "Financial Football," a multiple choice question-and-answer program that uses football to teach kids lessons about money.
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sponsors the program, which is in 27 states. Monday marked the beginning of the program in Mississippi, and copies of the video game will be given to every public middle and high school in the state for teachers to incorporate in the curriculum.
"One of the things we've tried to focus on is what we can do to improve the lives of Mississippians," Reeves said. "It's extremely important to improve the (financial) literacy in this state so people can make better decisions."
Most students in the room sported Saints' jerseys or T-shirts, and when Brees came in, chants of "Who Dat" broke out as they welcomed the Super Bowl XLIV MVP.
The group was divided into two teams, with Reeves coaching the San Diego Chargers and Brees coaching, of course, the New Orleans Saints. Each team had a chance to answer financial questions about credit reports, loans and credit cards. If they answered correctly, their team advanced. The students and their coaches high-fived each other and pumped their fists when they got a question right.
Brees' team won, 16-0.
Jason Alderman, senior director of financial education for Visa, said the company has been working with Brees for the last five years on the "Financial Football" game, and Brees even created some of the questions.
"We chose him for his leadership skills," Alderman said. "What we didn't realize was his passion for financial literacy."
This was the first class ever to play the game with Brees.
There is a free app for the game for iPhone and iPad, and several students played on an iPad before Brees arrived. They admitted at first they were more interested in meeting Brees than the game.
"I'm not even going to lie -- it's about Drew Brees," senior Stuart Foot said.
"But we do need to learn this stuff," said junior Michael Johnson, who controlled the iPad.
Senior Telvin Singleton agreed.
"I don't think I'm going to get a credit card," he said.
After the rousing game, Brees said he became involved with the project to give back to the community.
"I don't think there's enough in schools about finances," he said. "I think the earlier you get to them, the better off they'll be."