If you have ever tried to accomplish much of anything in your life, you have surely run into obstacles.

Someone beat you out. Someone told you no. Someone said, “you can’t.”

That last one – “you can’t” – may be responsible for motivating more people than any other phrase ever uttered.

You tell someone of any age you can’t do something, and it almost always draws an immediate response of “we’ll see about that.”

Drew Brees attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.

As a sophomore, Brees was buried behind a well-established starting quarterback on a junior varsity team that was winning and Brees was getting ready to give up on football. At one point, he told his mom after an August football practice that he was quitting football to focus on baseball.

His mom talked to him into going back the next day. It’s now impossible to quantify how many people have benefitted from that five-minute conversation because just a few days later, that starting quarterback blew out his knee and was done for the season. Brees got his chance.

He started 29 games at Westlake, and his teams won them all.

As a senior he was named Texas Offensive Player of the Year, which is not an award that is handed out lightly. But even then, he didn’t make recruiting ‘expert’ Tom Lemming’s Top 100 for The Southwest.

The obvious choices for a kid from deep in the heart of Texas, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M, never gave Brees the time of day. His family took him on a road trip to the Carolinas and up the eastern seaboard, and only the coaches at North Carolina would even watch his highlight tape.

They all said the same things: “Too short, too slow, missed time because of a knee injury, small hands … no thanks, you can’t.”

They never stopped to watch him play. They never considered his winning habits.

They just dismissed him because of his physical stature.

That left Brees with two schools who hadn’t said “you can’t” to him yet. They were Kentucky and Purdue.

Basketball schools … sigh.

Well the Boilermakers had a new coach, a fella by the name of Joe Tiller who had just come from Wyoming to West Lafayette. Tiller said he wanted to put in this “basketball on grass” idea at Purdue and thought Brees might be the right guy to run it for him.

Oh, was he was right.

Brees rose to Big Ten Player of the Year status. He had proven the belt-buckle-big teams of Texas and the schools along the east coast had missed on him big time.

But they weren’t the last.

In the 2001 draft, every team in the National Football League passed on him in the first round. The Chargers took him with the first pick of the second round. He played in 59 games for them, throwing for about 12,000 yards and 80 touchdowns in five seasons. But he suffered a shoulder injury and the Chargers bailed on him.

The Saints thought he was worth a shot, and they gave it to him.

The rest, as we say, is history.

All Brees has done is throw for more yards in the history of the NFL than anyone ever has. His next touchdown will be his 500th. His next career stop is Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sure, he doesn’t have the endorsement deals of a Peyton Manning and he doesn’t have a super model wife like Tom Brady. But when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, and politicians were too busy arguing over who should have moved faster and done more, Drew Brees was the face of recovery and restoration.

He and his Saints teammates were like that first green plant to sprout, a sign of life that gave everyone hope for the future.

When he broke the yardage record Monday night, his family was there on the sidelines to cerebrate the moment. Brees was wearing a microphone, and all of America heard him tell his four children “You can accomplish anything in life that you work for.”

Wisdom, for them, and for all of us, too.

Poet Robert M. Hensel wrote “When everyone else says you can’t, determination says yes you can.”

Drew Brees is a living testament to that.