It's strange to think the Summit (Ore.) High football players Drew Bledsoe now coaches weren't even born when he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft.
Some of the seniors might have been infants when Bledsoe led the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl appearance in 1996 or first-graders when he made his final Pro Bowl as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills in 2002, but most of them were probably still in Pop Warner by the time his career finally fizzled out on the Dallas Cowboys in 2006.
"He played for my favorite team," said senior captain and two-way lineman Blake Garrison told The Oregonian, "so it's kind of awesome to have him."
Bledsoe, 41, has made the Northwest his home base since birth, earning First Team All-State honors at Walla Walla (Wash.) High under the watchful coaching eye of his father Mac Bledsoe and achieving All-American status at Washington State University.
Bledsoe's post-playing career has been a pretty awesome one by any standard, considering he's established a winery, a private investment firm, a specialty coffee roasting company and the Drew Bledsoe Foundation since retiring seven years ago.
Recently, he added to that resume by accepting the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach opening under head coach Joe Padilla at Summit High in Bend, Ore., where Bledsoe, his wife and their four children make their home.
"I'm having a heck of a time out here," Bledsoe told OregonLive.com. "My dad was a football coach for 35 years, so I'm just out here enjoying this experience."
Bledsoe has his hands full this season, tasked with improving the offense of a team that got outscored by almost 200 points and finished last season with a 2-7 record. Although, the Storm return 12 starters, including senior quarterback Josh Gallagher.
"Josh Gallagher now has a year under his belt as a varsity quarterback," Padilla told The Oregonian. "He has shown a tremendous amount of growth in the offseason. Coach Bledsoe is a great mentor for Josh and our other quarterbacks in not only the mechanics of the position, but more importantly the mental aspect."
Hopefully, Summit's offensive line is a bit better than most of the groups that "protected" Bledsoe. After all, in addition to his 44,611 career passing yards and 251 touchdown passes over 14 NFL seasons, Bledsoe's 467 sacks rank sixth all-time among QBs.
Summit should hope Bledsoe can do the same for one of his three sons -- Stuart, John and Henry, the oldest of whom is about 15 or 16 years old by now -- just as his father Mac did for him five hours up the road at Walla Walla High some 25 years ago.
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