AUSTIN, Texas -- Drew Brees and Nick Foles began their journeys to football prominence long before they became record-setting quarterbacks at Westlake High in Auston.
As a fifth grader at Lee Elementary in 1990, Brees knew he was destined for glory. Just ask his former teacher, Joy Riley.
"Drew gave me his autograph because he said he was going to be famous someday," said Riley, now the golf coach at Anderson High.
After Brees led New Orleans to its first Super Bowl victory following the 2009 season, Riley rummaged through a filing cabinet. Almost 20 years after Brees had signed his name on an Austin ISD attendance sheet, Riley found the autograph and attached it to her refrigerator.
"When Drew said he was going to be famous, I believed him," Riley said Friday.
During the summer of 2003 -- two months before he enrolled at Westlake High and six years after Brees had graduated -- Foles and his family were swimming at a Phoenix hotel. Imagine the teen's shock when his boyhood idol, John Elway, made himself comfortable on a nearby lounge chair.
"(His mother) Melissa walked over to John and told him he was Nick's hero, and that he had done a paper on him in school," said Larry Foles, Nick's father.
Elway shook Nick's hand and took a poolside photograph with him. When Foles became Westlake's starting quarterback in 2005, he chose to wear jersey No. 7 to honor Elway.
When Philadelphia plays host to New Orleans on Saturday in an NFL playoff game, Foles and Brees will become unlikely adversaries. It will be the first time two quarterbacks from the same high school faced off in the postseason since Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw and Buffalo's Joe Ferguson -- both alums of Woodlawn High in Shreveport, La. -- led their teams against one another in 1974.
Brees graduated from Westlake in 1997, Foles in 2007.
"You can still see how Drew calls the plays in the huddle with a certain emphasis," said Ron Schroeder, Brees' head coach at Westlake. "You can see it even more now with HD TV. I remember after we beat (San Antonio) Churchill in the playoffs, everyone gathered around and shouted, 'Drew Brees! Drew Brees! Drew Brees!' " Schroeder said Brees was the best "leader" he ever coached. Brees led Westlake to the Class 5A, Division II state championship in 1996 -- the Chaparrals' only state title -- but his height (6 feet) and a knee injury he suffered as a junior scared off most college recruiters.
"The best thing about Drew -- and I can say the same thing about Nick -- is that he's always made good decisions on the field," Schroeder said.
Foles and Brees, ironically, both suffered torn labrums in 2006. Both were treated for their shoulder injuries by noted orthopaedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala.
Foles tore his right labrum against Austin High as a senior. He kept the injury to himself, knowing a grim prognosis would end his season.
"I kept asking Nick why he threw the ball side-armed," Larry Foles said. "He said it hurt too much to throw overhand." Foles played with the injury for six playoff games, culminating with the 5A, Division I final. Southlake Carroll earned a 43-29 victory over the Chaps despite 299 yards passing by Foles.
Once the season ended, Foles made an appointment with Andrews after learning he had a torn labrum. Before Foles had surgery to repair the injury,Andrews took a phone call from a familiar client. Foles was a "special" football player with a bright future, he was told.
The call came from Brees.
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