Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to talk about his time in New England, his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame and what life his life is like after football.
"The thing that I'm most proud of is being part of those teams that really started to turn the franchise around," Bledsoe said. "I came here in '93, the franchise hadn't had a lot of success for a number of years prior to that, and when I left here in '01, things were really headed toward where they are now, which is probably the premier franchise in the National Football League."
After being drafted No. 1 overall by the Patriots in 1993, Bledose quickly became the face of the franchise. In 1994, he led New England to its first playoff appearance in eight years. Two years later, Bledsoe carried the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI, where they fell to the Packers. His last season with the Pats was 2001, when Bledsoe suffered an early season injury and was replaced by a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady, who would lead New England to a Super Bowl victory that year.
After stints with the Bills and Cowboys, Bledsoe retired in April 2007. He ended his career fifth in NFL history in both pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251). He was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame in May and will be formally inducted this Saturday at Patriot Place.
Even though it was Bledsoe and then-coach Bill Parcells who turned New England into a winning franchise, Bledsoe says he isn't bothered when people credit Brady and Bill Belichick for turning around the Patriots.
"I'm just glad that I was and teams that I was on, I'm glad that we were part of a resurgence of that," Bledsoe said. "All you really want when you depart some place, you want to feel like when you leave, it's better than it was when you got there. And I feel like we did that."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On his time with the Cowboys and Bills: "I really did enjoy my time that I spent in Buffalo. They're great football fans over there. There's not a whole heck of a lot going on outside of football in Buffalo, so they certainly show up for the games. So, that was a fun place to play. And then going to the Cowboys for a couple of years, first of all, it was nice to be warm for a change coming from the AFC East. We enjoyed that time, too. Obviously, my heart and soul is with the Patriots and always will be, but I enjoyed those other two stops as well."
On his chances of getting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "Obviously, that would mean a ton. It's a great honor, but it's not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Handicapping my chances of getting in, I really honestly don't know. I think when you put my resume up there, it stacks up pretty nicely, but it's not a done deal, so I don't know. I'm certainly, right now, focused on this honor that's been bestowed on me by the fans of the New England Patriots."
On ending his career at age 34: "Honestly, it wasn't really necessarily that I couldn't play or couldn't play at a high level anymore. At that time, it would have been another move, leaving the Cowboys and going some place else. I wasn't willing to do that and all that that entails. For me, it was just time for the next phase in my life. I'd played football for a lot of years and loved every second that I did, but I knew that when the time came to move on, I was very ready to do that. It wasn't so much quitting football as it was moving on to the next phase of my life, and I've really enjoyed every little bit of it."
On his post-NFL life in Oregon: "I honestly keep myself very, very busy with the wine business and we're involved with a couple other businesses that demand a lot of my time. Thankfully, a lot of that time can be phone time except when we go out, I've done some marketing trips. I'm able to shape my business around my life, which is quite a luxury, but I do stay awfully busy."