Drew Brees Book Excerpt: 'Coming Back Stronger'

For example, when I was a freshman in high school, I changed school districts. Mom felt that of all the public schools in the area, Westlake High School in Austin had the best combination of aca-demics and athletics. She valued high academic standards as well as a good sports program, and Westlake had both.

I remember some conflict between my mom and dad about the school decision. My dad's a real easygoing guy, kind of a -go-with-the-flow type, whereas my mom was super¬competitive, probably overly competitive, if there is such a thing. When she and Dad would argue, she'd refuse to back down. Whenever she'd get in that bulldog mode, my dad would have no other choice than to agree with her decision.

My mom was the reason I went to St. Andrew's Episcopal School for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. She wanted me to get a solid education as well as have a great athletic experience. Dad would say, "Why do we have to pay for private school? The public school's just fine."

But Mom wouldn't budge.

When I moved into the Westlake district, I didn't know many people. I remember the first set of two-a-days as a freshman. This was Texas 5A football. It was Friday Night Lights. There was a sea of guys, probably 150 to 200 kids, all ready to play. The coach said, "Okay, who thinks they can be quarterback?"

I raised my hand and looked around to see forty other hands in the air. I thought, I am never going to see the field. I was the new guy. All these guys had been part of the same program at the two middle schools in the district. They'd had real game preparation and full-contact experience. I'd been playing flag football the past three years because our small Christian school didn't have enough players to field a tackle football team. The season hadn't even started yet, and already I was at a disadvantage.

There was a positive side, though: playing flag football had kept me from getting hurt early on. Plus, I'd learned a lot of the funda-mentals without wearing pads. Flag football is all about throwing, catching, and running as opposed to blocking and contact. The movement is very athletic and fluid, and it forces you to have a solid grasp of the basics.

I ended up as the fourth quarterback of six my freshman year. The first three went to the freshman A team, and the next three went to the freshman B team. In effect, I was the starter on the freshman B team. Not bad, but I felt lost in a swarm of players. During my sophomore year, when I was in the middle of two-a-days, my mom picked me up from practice. She could tell something was up because I was unusually quiet. After she pulled into the garage, she turned off the car and we sat there for a minute.

I looked at her and used a word that normally didn't come out of my mouth. "Mom, I think I might want to quit football." She didn't freak out. She just squinted her eyes with concern and said, "Why?"

"Because I don't feel like I'm ever going to get an opportunity to play."

Jay Rodgers was the quarterback for the varsity team, and his younger brother Johnny was the quarterback on junior varsity.

This was a football family. Their middle brother was the starting center on varsity, and their dad, Randy Rodgers, was the recruiting coor-dinator at the University of Texas. Johnny Rodgers was destined to be the next starting quarterback for Westlake High School, and I was sure I'd get lost in the shuffle.

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