Retired quarterback Drew Brees awarded Purdue softball player Emilee Cox with the surprise of a lifetime on Wednesday.
Cox, who happened to be sitting in the student-athlete academic center in West Lafayette, Indiana, named after the New Orleans Saints icon, became the recipient of a name, image and likeness deal courtesy of Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based restaurant has more than 50 locations throughout the country and recently launched its "Walk-On of the Week" program that grants NIL deals to collegiate athletes. Recipients of the weekly NIL award are invited to join the brand's "Walk-On's Family of Athletes", which also includes Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
The restaurant franchise was founded in 2003 by Brandon Landry, a former walk-on basketball player at LSU. Brees became a co-owner of the chain in 2015.
According to a news release, the newly minted "Walk-On of the Week" program partners with walk-on athletes to share their stories through the brand's social media networks.
"We created this program to highlight the real magic of sports -- the underdog," Landry said, according to the news release. "With NIL changing the landscape of collegiate athletics, we want to make sure that walk-ons aren't left out and receive the recognition and support they deserve. We're grateful to tell their stories and welcome them to our Family of Athletes."
Cox appeared in 19 games for the Boilermakers last season before it was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.