Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Lindsey Vonn and Serena Williams are the nominees for the Best Female Athlete award. The nominations were announced Thursday.
The ESPYS will be hosted by Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" and televised live (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Brees is also up for best championship performance, competing with snowboarder Shaun White, swimmer Michael Phelps and Montana basketball player Anthony Johnson.
He is also one of the Best NFL Player nominees, along with Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets and Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers.
John Wall, expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and Stephen Strasburg, last year's No. 1 pick in the MLB draft who started his major league career with three impressive performances for the Washington Nationals, are two of the nominees for Best Breakthrough Athlete. Johnson and women's college basketball star Brittney Griner of Baylor are the others.
The Canada-United States battle for the men's hockey gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics is one of the Best Game nominees, along with Duke-Butler in the NCAA men's basketball title game and Minnesota beating Detroit in a one-game playoff in the American League.
Phil Mickelson's win in the 2010 Masters is nominated for Best Moment, along with Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater who won an Olympic bronze medal in the days after her mother had died, and the Saints winning the Super Bowl.