METAIRIE, La. — Texas high schooler Calder Hodge, who plays football despite having both legs amputated above the knee when he was young, received a surprise Skype call from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees last week.
“Welcome to the QB brotherhood, man,” Brees said to Hodge, who was born with no tibia bones but still dreams of being the first double amputee quarterback in the NFL. “I can’t wait to watch you play. I’m gonna be keeping track of you, and I better be sent some videos of your training.”
Hodge, who turned 15 on Wednesday, played junior varsity last year and hopes to play varsity this year. He told ESPN it was “pretty crazy” when Brees showed up on the call.
“Because Drew has so many records in the NFL and he’s one of the quarterbacks I’ve always looked up to. He’s just a great player,” Hodge said. “So to have him jump on a call and talk to me and say that he’s heard about me is really crazy.”
Brees also promised to send Hodge an autographed jersey, as well as a goodie bag from Smoothie King.
The surprise was set up through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Hodge was on a video conference with former California high school quarterback Alex Ruiz, who returned to the field after a torn artery led to him having a leg amputated in 2018.
Brees also became a mentor to Ruiz, who wore No. 9 because he was such a big fan. Brees presented Ruiz with his first walking prosthetic leg shortly after his surgery.
And he got to meet the Manning family at last year’s Manning Passing Academy.
“It’s awesome, because not only are these great experiences for me, it’s me getting to pick NFL players’ brains. What they see on coverages, see how they process the game as a NFL player so I can take that and put that into my game,” Hodge said. “I’ve also gotten a lot of great relationships, so it’s just awesome to have those relationships with guys in the NFL.”