The Eagles and Saints aren’t really franchises you’d label as rivals, but that’s changing…quickly. After a lot of offseason trash talk from the likes of Alvin Kamara and a humiliating 48-7 win for New Orleans earlier this year, the two meet in a postseason rematch where the stakes have never been higher. But what’s really astounding is that in a grudge match so intense, there lies a connection between a pair of quarterback’s that is almost too pure for such a fiery matchup.
Ten years after Drew Brees set records for Westlake High School, a young man by the name of Nick Foles stepped up to the plate as the team’s signal-caller for two years. Throwing for 5,658 yards and 56 touchdowns, Foles surpassed the majority of records held by Breed, who by this point was making a name for himself in the NFL.
Surprisingly, both players also sustained high school injuries that hampered their recruiting. Foles would make his way to Michigan State before transferring to Arizona, while Brees took his talents to Purdue. The rest, as they say, is history.
Brees went on to win a Super Bowl ring in 2011 with the New Orleans Saints, a team who after being shockingly traded to after being drafted by the Chargers, he has carved out a Hall of Fame career with. Now, at 39 years old, he will face that same quarterback who shattered his high school records all those years ago.
“Obviously I heard a lot about him when he was in high school at Westlake, but there was a 10-year age difference,” Brees told ESPN prior to the duo’s first playoff showdown, a game in which the Saints beat the Eagles 26-24. “I followed his career. I follow a lot of the guys that leave Westlake and go on and kind of track what they are doing. But Nick, I know he went to Michigan State and then transferred to Arizona and had a great career there and then goes to Philadelphia, and look at what he has done. 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.”
History has a tendency to repeat itself and years after Nick Foles blitzed those high school records once held by Brees, he’s now doing the same at the NFL level. The 29-year old now has a 105.3 rating, which is currently the best of all time. Brees formerly sat in third place with his astonishing 100.7 rating. Most touchdowns in a single game? Foles is already in Canton for that. Highest post-season completion percentage? That doesn’t belong to the laser-accurate Brees either, instead, it belongs to Foles.
A lot has changed since that playoff encounter. Nick Foles has won a Super Bowl ring of his own and was named the MVP of that game just as Brees was back in 2011. The winner of this game advances to the NFC Championship game and for both quarterbacks, this game is vital. Brees will be entering his contract year next season for what may be the final time in his career and as we all know, Nick Foles is fighting to earn a long-term future of his own.
This is a rivalry that is likely going to span the next decade as two young and emerging teams scrap for supremacy in the unpredictable but always-craved Super Bowl window. But through all the smoke, mirrors and fire, lies a tale of two quarterbacks. Brees paved the way for Nick Foles and all these years later, two kids who captained their High School Football teams, will square off in their second playoff matchup. The entire community surrounding Westlake will be watching, but is it time for Brees to fully pass the torch over to Foles, or will the old guard die hard?