January 19, 2022

Colt Brennan, college football star at Hawaii, dies at 37

View Original Notice ? Colt Brennan, college football star at Hawaii, dies at 37

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Former Mater Dei High and Saddleback College quarterback Colt Brennan, who went on to star at the University of Hawaii and had a brief NFL career, died early Tuesday morning, May 11 at age 37.

The O.C. Coroner stated that Brennan, a resident of Irvine, died at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. The cause of death is pending an autopsy, according to a spokesperson for the O.C. Coroner.

Brennan’s cousin, Brent, is the head football coach at San Jose State.

Brennan’s father, Terry, said his son had been living at an addiction treatment center in Costa Mesa in recent months and had been making progress until recently.

“He was our Colt,” Terry Brennan said. “We had hoped and thought he had turned the corner with this (substance abuse).”

Colt Brennan had acknowledged in interviews and on social media that he struggled with alcohol and drugs. There were reports from various sources Tuesday that he was using both in the hours leading up to his death.

Terry Brennan told the Southern California News Group that when the Brennan family returned from a trip Sunday night, Colt was at their Orange County home and appeared to be extremely intoxicated.

Terry Brennan said he took Colt to a hospital emergency room, but the hospital detox facility was full and Colt was released without the family knowing.

“They released him out on the street and either he made a call or he got Uber or something,” Terry Brennan told the Associated Press.

ESPN.com reported that Monday, paramedics were called to a hotel room where Colt Brennan had been with other people. Terry Brennan told ESPN.com his son ingested something laced with fentanyl and never regained consciousness.

Terry Brennan his son was surrounded by family members when he died.

“He went peacefully,” the father told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “He listened to Bob Marley. His sisters had a lei around him when he was unconscious. They had the music of Bob Marley playing near his ear.”

Police are investigating the death, Terry Brennan said.

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, center, is seen with his parents, Betsy, left, and Terry after Hawaii won their college football game against Washington at Aloha Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007 in Honolulu. Brennan is one the four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Hawaii quarterback, Colt Brennan, prepares to throw the football during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

  • Colt Brennan played at Saddleback College, Mater Dei High School and the University of Hawaii before a brief career in the NFL. (File photo: Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (15) celebrates after defeating Boise State 39-27 in their college football game in Honolulu, Friday, Nov. 23, 2007. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan throws a touchdown pass during the first quarter of a college football game against Boise State, in Honolulu, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2007. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

  • Washington Redskins quarterback Colt Brennan, left, is pulled down by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain, right, during the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game in Baltimore, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, left, and coach June Jones talk during a football game against Northern Colorado in Honolulu on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (15) celebrates after defeating Boise State 39-27 in their college football game in Honolulu, in this Nov. 23, 2007 file photo. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)



Colt Brennan had a number of arrests for driving under the influence. There were also two incidents in Hawaii last year that involved the police, and they described him as heavily intoxicated both times.

“He just spent one too many times on the dark side of life, and it caught up with him,” Terry Brennan said of his son.

At Hawaii, Brennan was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and became the all-time leader in the NCAA for touchdown passes. He was drafted by Washington in the 2008 NFL Draft. He spent two seasons with the team, never appearing in a regular-season game.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson remembered Brennan’s perseverance and smile Tuesday as he looked at a signed photo in his office that showed Brennan dropping back to pass at Hawaii.

Rollinson said he always admired that Brennan waited his turn to take the helm as Mater Dei’s starting quarterback, replacing Matt Leinart for his senior season in 2001. Leinart went to star at USC and win the Heisman Trophy before playing in the NFL.

“I respected Colt for not transferring,” Rollinson said. “(His death) is extremely sad news. Obviously, you get shocked. A lot of ex-players are checking in and texting me. For the Mater Dei football community, it’s very sad. … Colt was such as great kid.”

Rollinson remembered Brennan’s “million dollar” smile and the support he received from his father, especially after a serious car accident in 2010.

“He was always by Colt’s side,” Rollinson said of Terry Brennan. “My prayers go out to Terry and the Brennan family.”

After graduating from Mater Dei, Brennan went to the University of Colorado, but legal issues forced him to leave the school.

He enrolled at Saddleback College for the 2004 season. In his one season there, he completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,532 yards and 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions and was named All-Empire Conference first team.

Terry Brennan said the car accident also was a major obstacle for his son. “He felt he wasn’t right sometimes,” he said.

Colt Brennan reflected on his life and addressed his battle with drugs and alcohol in an Instagram post last month.

His post included this comment: “I found redemption once, I will find it again.”

Terry Brennan said his son wanted to participate in a research program through Boston University that studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and “long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma” in athletes among others.

Terry Brennan said the program contacted the family on Tuesday. “That’s what he wanted,” he said of his son.

Brennan is survived by his parents, Terry and Betsy, and sisters Carrera and Chanel.

View Original Notice ? Colt Brennan, college football star at Hawaii, dies at 37

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