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Lionhearted quarterback

Lionhearted quarterback
Though he grew up in the South Bay, Trent Edwards wasn't much of a San Frnacisco 49ers fan. He rooted for the Detroit Lions.

Uh, the Detroit Lions?

"Barry Sanders was on my fantasy team," the Buffalo Bills quarterback explained.

Edwards, 25, said he also cheered for the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Rams. He apparently did so without being banished from Los Gatos.

Still, Edwards has at least one personal connection to the 49ers team he faces this weekend in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Edwards knew Bill Walsh, the late coach who shaped the 49ers' dynasty. The two met a few times while Edwards was the quarterback at Stanford and Walsh was at the school as an administrator.

The meetings were brief, but the lessons proved long-lasting.

"The thing he really stressed a lot was getting the ball to the running backs and tight ends," Edwards said. "He would talk about Brent Jones and Roger Craig and those guys, and how Steve Young and Joe Montana would throw to them to get back in rhythm. That's the thing I try to keep with me right now."

Edwards found his rhythm against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. He threw for 273 yards, two touchdowns and became the first Bills quarterback since Jack Kemp to run for two touchdowns in a game. Edwards' 121.0 passer rating was the best of his career.

Not bad for a player who had vowed never to play high school football. Growing up, Edwards was more into Baseball, basketball and golf.

But Edwards was about 11 years old when he made the fortuitous mistake of playing catch within view of Los Gatos High football coach Butch Cattolico. Edwards can't remember for sure where the incident took place, but he thinks it might have been at his older sister's volleyball game.

At any rate, Cattolico saw Edwards winging a Nerf Turbo around the field and was stunned to see such an impeccable throwing form. Cattolico decided instantly that Edwards would be his quarterback someday.

Edwards wasn't so sure. He resisted, even when Scott Downs, his coach in Los Gatos Little League, told him to give the sport a try.

"When I was in eighth grade, I said straight to his face: 'I don't want to play high school football,'" Edwards recalled. "I wasn't really raised to play the sport. I never played Pop Warner or anything. I played during recess and P.E.

"(Downs) said, 'Give it a shot. If you like it, stick with it. And if you don't, at least you tried.' I fell in love with it from Day One and have been doing it ever since."

By the time he was a Los Gatos senior, Edwards was among the most accomplished high school quarterbacks in the nation. He was selected as the Central Coast Section player of the year by the San Jose Mercury News and first-team All-State by Cal-Hi Sports.

He went to Stanford, where he ranks seventh on the school's all-time list with 5,429 passing yards. But those were rough years. Playing behind a bad offensive line, Edwards took weekly beatings that led to a sprained left shoulder and a broken foot.

Still, at least one person saw the talent: Walsh. In the days leading up to the 2007 draft, he recommended Edwards to anyone who would listen. Walsh found a willing audience in old friend Marv Levy, then the Bills' general manager. Buffalo took Edwards with the 92nd overall pick.

Last year, Edwards' 1,630 passing yards were the most ever for a rookie quarterback drafted in the third round or lower. He topped Chris Chandler (1,619 for the 1988 Colts) and Dan Fouts (1,126 for the '73 Chargers).

In contrast to his Stanford days, Edwards is now safely tucked behind the NFL's biggest offensive line. The Bills' five starters average 335.4 pounds.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: November 28, 2008

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