The NFL’s Forgotten Stories, Pt. 1: Drew Bledsoe
His credentials include the 2007 NFL MVP award, two Super Bowl MVP awards, three Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl appearances, “FIVE GOLDEN RINGS,” and don’t forget four pro bowls. Then if you consider the fact that in 2007 he had one of the greatest seasons by any quarterback, ever!
However, people often forget just whom he took over for on that mild September evening, back in 2001. Drew Bledsoe.
How often it has been forgotten what he did for the Patriots, and yes, he was a pretty good quarterback. He was the first “savior” of Boston, but has been overlooked. Now I’m taking a step back and looking at one of the NFL’s forgotten stories.
In 1990, the Patriots were at an all-time low.
A lowly 1-15. They had consistently gone down hill, since losing to the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Two more abysmal seasons followed, including going 2-14 in 1992. A franchise lost looking for some stability.
In 1993, New England hired, two-time Super Bowl winning, former New York Giants coach, Bill Parcells. He would then make a move that changed the direction of the franchise. In the '93 draft, he picked up Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Never again would they be a laughing stock.
In 1993, Bledsoe took the reigns of starter, and helped improve them to 5-11. Despite being thrown to the wolves, Bledsoe handled the new system and league with class.
In 1994, the Patriots were sitting at 3-6, but after a, furious comeback, win against the Vikings, they began a seven game win streak, to the playoffs. Despite losing to the Browns, this was the franchise first playoff game, since the 1986 season. Bledsoe was named to his first Pro Bowl.
After a down year in '95, Bledsoe would take the Patriots to the next level, with a division crown and an 11-5 record.
They were able to beat the Steelers and Jaguars in the playoffs en route to their second Super Bowl appearance. The Patriots however went on to lose to the Packers 35-21. Bledsoe was average at best in the game, but for his accomplishments that season he earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Patriots would go on to win a second straight division title in '97, and were able to beat the Dolphins in the first round playoff win.
Bledsoe played in his third Pro Bowl with the Patriots. Bledsoe then led them to one more playoff appearance in '98, a one and done deal, but remained a solid starter with the team. It should be noted that in '98, Bledsoe led his team to the playoffs but was injured and didn’t start in the actual game.
In '99 Bledsoe started the season strongly, and the Patriots looked to make another crack at the playoffs, but a second half collapse in the season, ended that hope.
In 2000, Bledsoe was solid, but the Patriots fell to 5-11.
In 2001, Bledsoe’s reign in New England finally ended. He suffered a bone-crunching hit in week two, Brady took over, and the rest is history.
Bledsoe went on to have productive years with the Buffalo Bills, leading them to a pair of winning seasons and securing his fourth Pro Bowl appearance in 2002. He then moved onto the Cowboys before finally retiring after the 2006 season.
His time was over.
Now it’s easy to throw what Bledsoe did out the window. Since he left, Brady has taken the Patriots to unheard-of heights. All the championships, the classic playoff games, and let’s not forget 16-0, but it was not Brady who led the Patriots out of the depths of despair. It was a man called Drew Bledsoe.
Let’s not forget that he was the face of the franchise for New England for eight seasons. Eight seasons! He was to New England, what LaDainian Tomlinson is to the Chargers, what Matt Hasselbeck has been to the Seahawks, what Tony Gonzalez is to the Chiefs.
Simply put, a franchise player, and someone that could not only be depended on, but was productive and won games. Let's not forget Drew Bledsoe was Tom Brady before Tom Brady. Bledsoe led teams to 33 fourth-quarter comebacks, and holds the record for the most overtime touchdowns of all-time.
Now I'm not saying that he's Tom Brady. Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and simply a better quarterback than Bledsoe ever was.
However, were it not for Brady, Bledsoe would likely still be called the greatest the Patriots ever had. He helped rescue them from losing, before being hopelessly overshadowed by a decade of dominance from the "Great" Bill Belichick and Brady.
I want to remind everyone of what Bledsoe accomplished and insure that he won't be forgotten.
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