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Colt Brennan, Former Hawai´i Football Standout, Dead at 37

May 11, 2021, 11:36 AM HST
* Updated May 11, 11:48 AM
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Colt Brennan
Colt Brennan, former University of Hawaii quarterback. PC: Twitter

Former University of Hawai´i quarterback Colt Brennan has died. He was 37 years old.

Brennan passed in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 11, at a hospital in Newport Beach, California. Paramedics had been summoned to a hotel room the day prior, where Brennan was reportedly partying with several other individuals.

The former football standout’s father, Terry Brennan, told ESPN that his son ingested a substance laced with fentanyl and never regained consciousness before dying the next day.

According to his father, Brennan intended to enter a detox program at an area hospital on the same day he ingested the substance that would claim his life only hours later. Brennan was told there were no beds available.

“He was really into it,” Terry Brennan told ESPN 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.”

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Brennan’s career as a Rainbow Warrior was prolific. The quarterback passed for more than 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons between 2005-07, recording a whopping 5,549 yards through the air in 2006.

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He also set the single-season mark for passing touchdowns that year with 58, a record that stood until 2019 when he was surpassed by then-LSU signal caller Joe Burrow. Brennan remains fourth on the all-time NCAA D-1 list of career touchdown passes, with 131 total.

Brennan rose to national prominence on the strength of his performance, elevating the University of Hawai´i Football program along with him. He finished sixth in Heisman voting in 2006 and third the next season. The 2007 Rainbow Warriors posted an undefeated regular season (12-0), qualifying for the Sugar Bowl where they fell to the perennial SEC powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs.

In 2008, Brennan was drafted by the then-Washington Redskins, now named the Washington Football Team, in the sixth round. However, injuries plagued the quarterback his rookie season and he was eventually released. He never took a snap in an NFL game.

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Brennan suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident in 2010, also sustaining broken ribs and a broken collarbone. He attempted comebacks in the USFL, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, but never caught on. His father said the brain injury changed Brennan forever, making it difficult to succeed on the football field and causing problems in other areas.

The former U of H standout struggled with substance abuse in the years that followed, resulting in a string of arrests for public intoxication, causing public disturbances and driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

Despite his difficulties in later years, those who were there for Brennan’s three seasons under the Hawai´i sun will carry fond memories of his collegiate greatness forever.

“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,” the university wrote in a statement.

“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,” the statement continued. “He inspired everyone, from our keiki to our kūpuna. 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.”

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