Courtesy NBC Sports
Mike Tirico is thrilled to be working with Drew Brees.
PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at Tirico, 54, and Brees, 42, together on NBC Sports' Football Night in America and Tirico tells PEOPLE, "I'm super excited he's on our team now, and that we'll get the chance to watch him begin phase two of his NFL life, here as a broadcaster."
Continues Tirico, "I'm thrilled he's with us. I can't wait to hit the road and start working with him on Notre Dame football and for our Football Night in America studio show."
On March 15, less than 24 hours after the former quarterback announced his retirement following 20 seasons in the NFL, NBC Sports announced that Brees had joined the network as a studio analyst on Football Night in America and as a game analyst for Notre Dame broadcasts.
"I feel a great connection to Drew, in 2006 when I was doing my first year of Monday Night Football it was Drew's first year with the New Orleans Saints, and the famous game where they came back to New Orleans for the first game after Hurricane Katrina. Drew was the quarterback in that game," says Tirico, who is also set to host primetime Olympics coverage for the network next month from Tokyo.
"I got to call that game and we called probably 15 or so games over the next 10 years and met with Drew every time. So I've been around him there and other things, and I just have always enjoyed his company, and think the world of him and Brittany, his wife. They've got three great kids," he says of Brees' family.
Tirico adds, "It is kind of cool because he has always played that role for the last decade in New Orleans. He's played that role of the veteran who brings in new guys and help learn the system. Hopefully I can help. [Former NFL defensive back and former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts] Tony Dungy will be a huge help to him as he does that. I'm looking forward to the three of us really having a great time together covering the NFL this year."
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In May 2017, Tirico was named NBC's play-by-play voice for Thursday Night Football before he was tapped as studio host for Football Night in America in August 2018. Then, last season, Tirico filled in for longtime veteran broadcaster Al Michaels for some games on Sunday Night Football, further positioning Tirico as Michaels' heir apparent.
According to a recent New York Post report, Amazon has eyed Michaels, 76, to be the voice of its upcoming exclusive Thursday Night Football deal. The report comes as Michaels, who is scheduled to broadcast Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles for NBC, is in the final season of his current contract with the network and Tirico has long been rumored to be the frontrunner to take over Sunday Night Football in 2022-23.
"We've all learned with the pandemic there's no guarantee about next day or day after that," Tirico tells PEOPLE about filling in for Michaels last season. "I was just so happy to be a part of the NBC Sports NFL family. I'm lucky that I've had the chance to call some games the last few years and look forward to doing that again this year. But Al is the best. I've been a fan of Al's since I wanted to start doing this. He has spanned generations. He has spanned eras of football, and he has brought to the job a level setting that we all aspire to get to."
Tirico adds, "He's just terrific. And nobody tells a better story. Nobody has seen and been a part of more sports history than Al, and it's just been a privilege for me to be teammates with him."
Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football returns in September on NBC.