The Whitefish Review celebrates 10 years by looking back at an interview from issue #1

Over the past 10 years, local literary journal Whitefish Review has made a national name for itself by publishing surprising interviews alongside fiction, essays, poetry, art, and photography. Here, we dip into the archives from issue #1 for an excerpt from an interview with NFL legend Drew Bledsoe.

To read the full interview, visit www.whitefishreview.org/archives.

– Brian Schott, WFR founder

After 14 seasons, one of the NFL’s all-time greatest quarterbacks gives his first major interview since his retirement in April 2007. Drew talked to the Whitefish Review founding editors about his love of skiing, the art of football, and life after a career as a sports superstar.

WFR You’ve been spotted on the slopes of Big Mountain many times, skiing powder with the Whitefish locals. Talk to us about your love of skiing.
DB I started skiing when I was two. My dad cut the last two feet off of an old pair of skis, put a piece of leather over the toe, a piece of rubber inner tube around the heel, and I would go traipse around the back yard in my rubber wading boots. Eventually he got me up on the ski mountain. I made my first turns later that winter at Alpental Ski Resort near Snoqualaqmie Summit. My parents said the only time I cried was when they told me it was time to go home. Skiing was a real passion for me growing up. My dad was a football coach and teacher and my mom was also a teacher. We’d take family ski trips when school was out where we’d pile into our old VW Rabbit and camp out at some cheap hotel and ski and just have a ball.

WFR How is the sport of skiing different than football?
DB Skiing is more of a solo sport than football. There’s some competition to see if you can keep up with your buddies, but it’s a different kind of sport. You take the competitive element out and enjoy doing something active in a spectacular setting. I enjoy seeing my kids ski. The freedom you have on a pair of skis is unlike anything else—you can go anywhere you want, as fast as you want. Watching my kids experience it is amazing—to see them test where they go and how fast they go. It creates a lot of independence for young kids. I now know that it was a big part of who I was as a young child. I’d take off when I was five or six years old and have the whole mountain to myself and meet my folks at lunch.

WFR Why did you come to Big Mountain?
DB I always felt comfortable at the Big Mountain [in Whitefish, Montana] and other areas out west. It wasn’t that big a deal when I was skiing out here. I never skied back east because I was afraid they would turn it into a story and it would be a mess. It was cool out here. All those years of skiing and it never became a story. Of course I skied a little more sensibly while playing ball than when I was younger, but I think it helped me as a ball player. It’s always interesting coming out of football season. I’d get beat up for a few months then roll into ski season thinking I’d be in shape, but I never had my ski legs. I’m only good for the first 20 yards (laughs)—it’s all about short bursts on the field.

WFR How did you find Whitefish?
DB My wife and I were skiing in Red Lodge and decided to stop and ski in Whitefish on the way home to Washington. We drove into Whitefish, stopped in for a beer, went to the ski mountain, and rode up on the chair with some guy named Mike Powers [Whitefish Review editor] (laughs) wearing a Patriots ski hat. We cruised around, got a tour from someone who knew what was going on, hung out, checked out the lake, the little downtown, and liked that it was not really discovered. I was 23 years old.
We found a real estate agent from some sign and told her we wanted to look at property on the lake. I looked like a ski bum and my wife looked really young, so the agent looked at us like we were kind of crazy. “Houses on the lake are pretty pricey. Are you looking for something for your dad?” she asked. “Uh…what’s your price range?” She drove us around, and at the end of the lake we found this cabin—I immediately knew I wanted it and we bought it a week later.

Originally published June 2007