PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ten years after Drew Brees led Westlake High School to the Texas state championship, Nick Foles came along and broke many of his passing records but couldn't deliver another title for the Austin-based school.
The two quarterbacks go head-to-head for the first time in the NFL with more at stake when Brees and the New Orleans Saints (11-5) visit Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) in an NFC wild-card playoff game Saturday night.
"Drew is a tremendous player. He's a guy that I've looked up to," Foles said. "He's a great role model for fellow players, kids and adults. What he does in the community, what he's done for Louisiana and across the nation, he does a great job of being a good person, helping people in need. He's a guy I've watched on film and just watched what he's done and I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a person. I know Westlake is really proud.
"It's a great place to go to school, great place to grow up."
Brees watched Foles play once in high school when he returned in 2006 for the 10-year reunion of the Chapparals' 1996 championship team. Foles led Westlake to the state championship game that year, only to lose to Southlake Carroll 43-29.
The players hadn't met each other until the Eagles played at New Orleans last year. Foles was Michael Vick's backup then.
"I heard a lot about him when he was at Westlake, but there was a 10-year age difference," Brees said. "I followed his career. He has been pretty impressive for such a young player, mature beyond his years. I wouldn't say that I am all that surprised because he is a Westlake guy. He has played great."
Brees went to Purdue after Westlake, was drafted by San Diego and ended up in New Orleans, where he's established himself as one of the NFL's all-time best quarterbacks. Brees is an eight-time Pro Bowl pick who just threw for 5,000 yards for the fourth time in his career. No other QB has ever done it more than once.
Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in February 2010. He'll be trying to help them win their first playoff game on the road in six tries when they meet the Eagles.
"When he's out there, he's a warrior," Foles said. "There aren't many guys who can make the throws that he makes. He has great intensity and he's an underrated athlete. I've seen pictures of him dunking on goalposts and certain things. You can just see his leadership, and I've always looked up to him as a leader. I think he's a great guy and a great quarterback, but on and off the field he's the same guy, and I respect that about him."