Foles and Brees: Big state, small world

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has pointed this out before: Texas is a big state.

He pointed it out when the Eagles played Washington and Foles was asked if he knew Robert Griffin III in high school. He pointed it out when asked why so many players, and quarterbacks in particular, seem to be from the Lone Star State.

“It’s a big state,” Foles would say. “There’s a lot of people there.”

Westlake High in Austin is a pretty big school, but it’s still kind of remarkable that a couple of its alumni, Foles and Drew Brees, will be playing against each other when the Eagles host the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night.

It has only happened once before in an NFL playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and Buffalo’s Joe Ferguson started at quarterback in a divisional playoff game in 1974. They both graduated from Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, La.

So it’s rare. But what’s really odd is that Foles only met Brees once, and it wasn’t at Westlake. It wasn’t in Austin. It wasn’t in Texas.

It was at the Superdome in 2012.

“I met him last year when we played the Saints,” Foles said.

Brees won the state title for Westlake in 1996. Ten years later, the school honored that team at the homecoming game. That was Foles’ senior year. Brees flew in for the festivities, but wasn’t around for long.

“They had a great team back then,” Foles said. “He was at that game. He’s a busy man. We’re 10 years apart.”

Translation: It’s a big school in a big state. Being alumni in the NFL doesn’t make Foles and Brees best pals.

But Foles couldn’t help but be aware of Brees while he was playing at Westlake. Brees owned all the passing records until, one by one, Foles started breaking them. That state title loomed large, especially when Foles led the team to the state final in 2006.

“He was a role model from the same area,” Foles said. “He won a state championship. That’s something we aspired to do when I was there. We played in the state championship game my senior year. We lost, but we both played in the state championship game 10 years apart. He was a great quarterback in high school and college and he’s doing a great job in the NFL.”