The Joy of Sacks

What's it like to watch your son get tackled for a loss—or throw a touchdown pass—on national TV each week? Drew Brees's parents wouldn't trade it for the world.

IT’S NOT LIKE AMY BREES has never seen her stepson struggle. Even a two-time Heisman trophy finalist can throw an interception or come up on the wrong side of a big game. But getting hammered by the New York Jets? “This is like losing to ________ or ________,” Amy laments, referring to two Austin high school cream puffs that she prefers not to name in print, the sort Drew Brees carved up handily when he led the Westlake Chaparrals to the 1996 Texas 5A championship.

Six years later, 23-year-old Drew lines up behind center for the San Diego Chargers. On this Sunday afternoon in early November, Amy and her husband, Chip, have fired up the satellite—he in a Chargers golf shirt, she with lightning-bolt helmet earrings dangling from both lobes. They’ve been nice enough to have me over to watch the Jets-Chargers game, talk about Drew, and give me a taste of what it’s like to see your kid drenched in glory and grass stains on national television. Family members trickle in as Audrey Brees, Chip and Amy’s twelve-year-old daughter, regales her little cousin with the “San Diego Super Chargers!” fight song.

San Diego is coming off a bye week as perhaps the best team in the NFL (according to ESPN.com) and certainly its best shaggy-dog story. Before the Jets game, the Chargers were atop the American Football Conference with a 6-1 record, spurred by Waco native LaDainian Tomlinson’s running and Drew’s poise, which belies his status as a first-year starter. While a fairy-tale ending—Super Bowl XXVII will be played at the Chargers’ own Qualcomm Stadium—is unlikely, notice has been served: The Chargers are winners, and Drew is a star in the making, part of a generation of NFL quarterbacks that Sports Illustrated calls the best since Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and John Elway’s class of 1983.

And to think, he wasn’t recruited by a single major Texas college. Drew didn’t even play tackle football

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