The Patriots announced on Monday that Drew Bledsoe will become the latest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Drafted number one overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by Bill Parcells and the Patriots, Bledsoe had a solid NFL career that concluded in a Dallas Cowboys uniform in 2006 as a backup to Tony Romo.
Bledsoe probably deserved a better fate.
Along with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Bill Parcells, Bledsoe helped make the Patriots a relevant NFL franchise again long before the names Brady and Belichick became a consistent part of the average New Englander’s vocabulary.
After Bill Parcells departed following the Super Bowl defeat, Bledsoe’s Patriots failed to make significant waves in the AFC landscape again under Pete Carroll.
When Kraft named Bill Belichick as New England’s new head coach in 2000, the changing of the guard at quarterback slowly began.
Often detailed in whatever Patriots dynasty era book you preferred to read, it was believed that the Belichick regime wanted to cut ties with Bledsoe as the starter and move to another quarterback.
As it turns out, when Jets linebacker Mo Lewis put Bledsoe on the shelf during Week 2 of the 2001 season, the opening was there to move Tom Brady into the starter’s role.
Regardless of New England’s success over the last decade, one fact cannot be disputed.
The Patriots got to their first Super Bowl under Belichick with Bledsoe – not Brady – as their quarterback.
During the 2001 AFC title game, Pittsburgh’s defense knocked out Brady with an ankle injury early on but Bledsoe came in to lead New England back to the Super Bowl.
Ultimately, the legend of Brady may have never developed if Bledsoe didn’t answer the bell in Pittsburgh to put the Pats in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Even though he sputtered in Bills and Cowboys jerseys, Bledsoe’s days in New England helped turn a once moribund franchise into one of the most successful entities in sports.
Categories: New England Patriots