Longtime Texas high football coach Ray Akins, the revered grandfather of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, died Tuesday morning in Texas.
He was 92.
Akins, the second-winningest coach in Texas high school football history when he retired in 1988, coached for 37 years. At Gregory-Portland High School from 1965-1988, Akins led the team to a state-record of 12 consecutive district titles, as well as a 1971 trip to the state finals.
In 2005, Akins was awarded the President Gerald R. Ford All-American High School Coaches Award, which distinguished him as one of the all-time best high school coaches in the U.S.
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“He was a legend here at Gregory-Portland,” Wildcats Head Coach Rick Rhoades told the Corpus Christi Caller Times. “The things he did for our football program will never be matched. All of us are striving to get back to the way he had it.”
Brees has credited Akins with influencing his game. In 2012, Brees told a story about how he was dining at a New Orleans steakhouse when another guest sent him his business card with a note on the back. It said he played football for Akins, a legendary Texas high school coach who retired in 1988 as the state’s third-winningest coach after 38 years on the sideline.
The message read: “I played for your grandfather. You used to give us water during two-a-days when I was playing.”
On Tuesday night Brees posted a memorial picture on Instagram in honor of Akins, whom he called “a true American hero.”
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