When John Beck leads the Washington Redskins against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto on Sunday, it won’t mark the first occasion, or sport, in which he has against Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Growing up about half an hour from Phoenix, Beck and Fitzpatrick have known each other since they were roughly 7 and 8 years old.

“I think it started off with swimming to be honest,” Fitzpatrick said Wednesday in a conference call with Redskins beat writers. “He’s a year older than I am. … We grew up playing sports against each other and even at one point kind of training with the same guy back in high school.”

Said Beck: “We’ve known each other since we were 7 years old, 8 years old. So he’s a guy whose story I do know because we played all sports against each other, so I’ve followed Ryan.”

Fitzpatrick said that back in those swimming days, Beck was excelled at backstroke.

“When he was 9 or 10 years old, I think he was maybe the best at backstroke in the state,” Fitzpatrick recalls.

Beck went to Mountain View in Mesa, while Fitzpatrick played for Highland in Gilbert. But the two never actually played a game against each other.

“I think he was two years ahead of me,” Fitzpatrick said. “When I was a sophomore, I got brought up to varsity, but was the third-string guy. John was playing and my brother was the quarterback at Highland, and my brother broke his collar bone in that game. I guess that’s what I remember most about that. I played Mountain View again, but he was already gone, either on his mission or at BYU by the time I was actually playing.”

Although Beck was ahead of Fitzpatrick back then, now the Redskins’ passer hopes his perseverance in the NFL pays off in similar fashion as Fitzgerald’s.

Fitzpatrick bounced around from St. Louis, to Cincinnati and now finally Buffalo, where he has established himself as a quality starting quarter.

Beck started out his career in Miami in 2007, and now after five seasons of inactivity finally has gotten a chance to prove he can start in the NFL.

“I’m really happy to see his success, but there is [similarity] because I know his story that he just kept working and, at one point, he was out of football and then he got picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals and played in I believe 12 games or 13 games for them that year. It’s just a good example – if you keep working, good things can happen.”

Discuss in the Tailgate Zone. . . Why hasn't Kyle Shanahan had more success in Washington? He came to D.C. with a reputation as an offensive mastermind, yet the Redskins’ offense still plods along.