The story behind Drew Brees' birthmark, and why he'll never get it removed

Drew Brees doesn't look like your typical NFL quarterback.

He's listed at a generous 6 feet tall, 209 pounds, while the average height of a pro quarterback is more like 6'3".

He also has a pretty big birthmark placed prominently over his right cheek.


Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

There it is. Clear as day.

Still, it can be hard for people to wrap their heads around a celebrity having such a glaringly obvious "imperfection." The first time Oprah met Drew in person, she thought his birthmark was a lipstick smudge and tried to wipe it off.

AWKWARD! GIF from "Oprah."

Drew has been selected to nine Pro Bowls, led the league in passing yards five times, and, of course, was named MVP of Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

Before he was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, though, he was just a kid who got made fun of for being different.

"Because of my birthmark, which I was obviously born with, I got all kinds of comments when I was a kid, about 'Wipe that whatever off your face.' ... All kinds of names. People would call me 'Spot,'" Drew told CNN.

"I think they were trying to be malicious. They were trying to be hurtful."

When he grew up and found his way to fame and fortune, he had a choice: have the birthmark removed or use it to send a message.

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

Drew Brees has, to put it bluntly ... a lot of freaking money. He's currently in year four of a five-year, $100 million deal and will likely cash in again with an even bigger contract before his career comes to an end.

There's no question he could pay for the plastic surgery to have that birthmark removed for good and have plenty of money leftover to enjoy his recovery in a five-star resort on Neptune, if he wanted.

But for Drew, this option never even crossed his mind.

In his book, "Coming Back Stronger," he writes: "Instead of seeing it as a bad thing, I chose to see it as something that made me unique and special. It set me apart from everyone else. ... Now it's just a part of who I am. I wouldn't consider cutting off my arm. Neither would I cut off my birthmark."

As his career blossomed, Drew began using his platform to tell kids like him that they don't need to be ashamed of who they are.

"There's lots of kids that may have something that somebody is going to make fun of. Their name, the way they look, the way they talk, the way they laugh. And it's so unfair, but it's reality," he said during his interview with CNN.

And in 2010, he teamed up with the It Gets Better movement to put out a message.

"Making fun of someone because they're different from you? That's not being tough, it's being ignorant," he said. "I want my fans to know that if you're making fun of someone ... then you are no friend of mine."

Now fans go to Saints games with fake birthmarks — sometimes stickers, sometimes temporary tattoos, sometimes eye black — on their faces to show their quarterback some love.

Photo courtesy of David/All Southern Livery.

Life is pretty good as one of the NFL's top players. But every time Drew takes the field, he's showing kids all over the world that being different is good — and not only will it not hold you back from achieving whatever you want, it might even help you get there.

And as for whether he'll ever change his mind and have the mark removed?

He told TMZ, "As long as there's no health issues with it, then it stays."

Right on, Drew. Right on.

Here's Drew on CNN talking about the birthmark, dealing with his bullies, and how he used it as motivation to become great:

Canva

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Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

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Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

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The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

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