As Drew Bledsoe is about to be inducted into the New England Patriots' Hall of Fame, I thought it a perfect time to revisit what has now become an overlooked and underrated career. How many occasions can you think of where a player on the way to a professional Hall of Fame career was replaced by one of the greatest of all time at that position? This is the situation for Drew, though you wouldn't know it from talking to him. He's walked quietly away from the game without complaint.
I say "on his way to the HOF" because who's to say what kind of numbers he could have finished with had he played even a majority of his games for good teams or, better yet, had been given the opportunity to play for the Patriot teams Tom Brady played for. No, he's not nor ever would be Tom Brady; but I argue Bledsoe would have been a clear Hall of Famer had he not spent much of his career either on his back or having to play quarterback much in the way that Dan Marino had to -- sling it for better or for worse and take lots of chances. Look at Bledsoe's statistics when he was carrying the Patriots and Bills and then compare then to Marino's. No, he wasn't Marino either but I contend he was well on his way...make your own conclusions.
Here is a great quote by Patriots owner Robert Kraft that says what I've been trying to say.
”Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots brand,” Kraft said in a press release. ”He gave fans hope for the future and provided many memorable moments during his record-breaking career. I will never forget Drew’s record-setting performance in that come-from-behind victory against Minnesota the year I bought the team. It sparked a seven-game win streak and put the Patriots back in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival.”
Drew could sling it. Tom Brady's 517 yards passing this past weekend broke Bledsoe's team record. You probably thought Brady already held that record.
UPDATE: I'll come back to add more, as I lost my train of thought as I wrote this initially but here's a link to an opinion piece that I think is worth reading. This writer argues that Bledsoe is worthy of enshrinement in Canton. I think he needed a couple more good years and a playoff run to secure that but this writer makes very good points. But the worth of a player is not all in the stats (see the Kraft quote for an example) and also just watching week in and week out over a player's career.