Rob Tobeck has questions for Drew Bledsoe

ONCE UPON a time they were one of the most formidable quarterback-center combos to roam the Palouse. Nowadays, with long and successful NFL careers behind them, Robbie Tobeck and Drew Bledsoe are businessmen. And this Wednesday they're teaming up to bring Cougars together to talk business.

More specifically, they're going to be encouraging Cougars to do business with each other by raising awareness of who's who and doing what. The first-annual CougsFirst! Trade Show is set for this Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

Tobeck, co-owner of Griffin Maclean Insurance Brokers in Bellevue, is one of the organizers and Bledsoe, the founder of Doubleback Winery in Walla Walla, will be the keynote speaker.

The event is a volunteer initiative dedicated to having WSU alumni think "Cougs First" when purchasing a product or service. Admission is free (click here to register). Hundreds of Cougs are expected, including President Elson Floyd, in a casual business environment promoting a wide variety of products and services. is one of the co-sponsors. As such, we asked Tobeck to corner Bledsoe for a quick Q&A touching on business and a little football.

Here's what the old teammates had to say in this exchange over the weekend …

Rob: Before we talk business, give me your assessment of Connor Halliday and where you think the Cougar offense is headed this season.

Drew: I'm fired up to watch Connor and the Coug offense this year. The second year with a new offense is generally a step up. Everybody gets more comfortable, etc. and it will allow Coach Leach to open up a bit more.

Rob: OK, on to business. You're not only giving the keynote address at the CougsFirst event on Wednesday but your Doubleback Winery will have a booth there. Why are you participating?

Drew: It's a great opportunity to connect with fellow Cougs and tell the story of our wine business. One of the great things about the wine business is that "work" is often a lot of fun. This is one of those cases.

Rob: Without giving it all away, what are some of the key messages you're going to be talking about in your CougsFirst speech?

Drew: I will be talking about some of the parallels between playing sports, particularly QB, and moving into the business world.

Rob: And what are some of the parallels you've found between starting up your business and playing quarterback?

Drew: Planning, discipline, creativity, perseverance, leadership.

Rob: What have been the biggest challenges in getting Doubleback off the ground and how have you dealt with them?

Drew: The single-biggest challenge has been being patient with the process. Wine simply takes a long time.

Rob: For every start-up that succeeds, there comes a time when you must decide how much and how fast you want to grow. Where are you in that process?

Drew: We are at that point right now. Doubleback is almost right at the size we want it to be. Now we have to decide whether we are going to grow into some other brands or sit still and enjoy the business.

Rob: You played for a number of excellent coaches over the years. What management and leadership skills did you pick up from them that are helping you in your new career in business?

Drew: There were some very diverse styles that I experienced but the principles that led to success were consistent -- discipline, organization, leadership, accountability.

Rob: If someone comes up to you Wednesday event and asks if Bill Parcells was as difficult to work for as news accounts have portrayed him, what will your response be?

Drew: Yes!

Rob: This one is probably obvious, but I'll ask it anyway. Who's the greatest center you had the privaledge of playing with?

Drew: Jaime Vasquez at Walla Walla High School. You were OK too.

Rob: Jaime was great, but don't forget who made you the No. 1 overall draft pick!

Bledsoe and Tobeck starred on WSU's 1992 Copper Bowl team before embarking on long NFL careers that included Super Bowls and Pro Bowls for both. To learn more about Tobeck's Griffin MacLean Insurance firm, click here and to find out more about Bledsoe's Doubleback Winery point your browser here.

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