Colt Brennan, who set numerous NCAA records as the quarterback of the University of Hawai’i, has died, his father, Terry Brennan, said. He was 37.
Terry Brennan told ESPN that his son died early Tuesday morning at a hospital in Newport Beach, California. The day before, paramedics were called to a hotel room where Colt Brennan had been with other people. Terry Brennan said his son had ingested something laced with fentanyl and never regained consciousness.
Only hours earlier, Colt Brennan had tried to enter a detox program at an area hospital, but he was turned away because there were no beds available.
“He was really into it,” Terry Brennan said of the treatment program. “It involved a lot of physical activity and he liked it. He was working with soldiers who had come back from Afghanistan and Iraq with similar problems. He was doing quite well with it for four months. Then something happened and he went to the dark side, and it was just not good.”
Terry Brennan said family was at Colt’s side when he died.
Colt Brennan’s run of success from 2005 to 2007 helped put Hawai’i football on the map. He passed for more than 4,000 yards three times, including for 5,549 in 2006. That season, he set the single-season record for touchdown passes with 58. The record was surpassed by Joe Burrow during the 2019 season.
Brennan is fourth all-time in career touchdown passes with 131.
Brennan finished sixth in Heisman voting in 2006 and third in 2007. The 2007 team finished the regular season 12-0 and 10th in the Associated Press poll before losing to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Hawai’i’s athletic department put out a statement about Brennan’s death:
“It’s hard to put into words the impact that Colt Brennan had on Rainbow Warrior fans and the people of Hawai’i. He was a phenomenal player and provided us some of the greatest sports memories we’ll ever have. But he was more than that. For all that he accomplished on the football field and the adulation he received for it, he always remained among the people. He never turned down an autograph, he never turned down a picture with someone. He inspired everyone, from our keiki to our kupuna. He had a Warrior mentality on the field but a true aloha spirit off of it. Today is any extremely tough day. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Brennan ‘ohana and we mourn together with all those across Hawai’i and Rainbow Warrior nation who were touched by Colt.”
After his time at Hawai’i, Brennan was taken in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by Washington, but injuries prevented him from playing his rookie year, and he was released. He never played in the NFL.
Washington tweeted Tuesday that it was saddened to hear of Brennan’s death.
A 2010 car accident left Brennan with a traumatic brain injury, and that made it difficult to continue his football career. He tried to catch on in the USFL, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League but didn’t stick.
Terry Brennan said his son was never the same after the car accident, which left him with the head injury, broken ribs and a broken collarbone.
Brennan had a series of legal troubles in recent years, including arrests for driving under the influence.
In 2020, he was arrested at a hotel for causing a disturbance while intoxicated. A few months later, he was arrested at his own home in Hawai’i for another disturbance during which police said he was “extremely intoxicated.”
“It seemed to have an effect on him to where he just found himself going from one bad spot to another bad spot,” Terry Brennan said. “I don’t know how else to say it. You make decisions and sometimes they’re the right decisions, and sometimes they’re the wrong decisions.”
Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach was used in this report.
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