A recent ESPN documentary dubbed ‘The Brady 6′ has unearthed the Cinderella story of Tom Brady’s unexpected quest to success. The unlucky or even unfortunate beneficiary of Brady’s ascension to football stardom was Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe was the franchise quarterback for the Patriots when Brady was selected by New England as a compensatory pick at pick, during the sixth round of the draft. As NFL history would have it there would end up being six quarterbacks selected before Brady. Brady would end up fighting-and-clawing his way onto the Patriots roster during the season and in he would get his chance. In the second game of the 2001 season, New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis delivered a vicious blow that footballs fans can still feel from their television sets on Bledsoe as he was dashing towards the sidelines. Bledsoe would end up suffering a sheared blood vessel in his chest from the hit by Lewis.
The rest would be history as it has come to be known. Brady replaced Bledsoe at quarterback and soon became an All-Pro, leading the Patriots to three Super Bowls titles, the first one being in that magical season. It was a tough pill to swallow for the battle-tested Bledsoe, who would end up showing his resolve in the end, despite never regaining the starting role in New England, he relieved an injured Brady in the AFC Championship Game, helping seal a 24-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bledsoe played for the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys before he retired. In his 13-year career, Bledsoe ended up with 44,611 yards passing as he is now in the running for the New England Patriots Hall of Fame. Drew Bledsoe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston with Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak to discuss how the first conversation with Bill Parcells went after he was drafted in, how hard was it playing for Bill Parcells, what his relationship with Tom Brady was like during the season, Tom Brady showing appreciation for what he did for him as a mentor and if was it as bad as advertised with Terrell Owens when he was the quarterback down in Dallas.
You’re the number one pick overall in the NFL Draft. You walk into the room and there’s Bill Parcells. How did that first conversation go once you were his property?
“You know the conversation that I remember more clearly was at the scouting combine. It was the first time I met him [Bill Parcells]. You know it was pretty heavy times. I was…at that point I was twenty. I turned twenty-one when we were at the scouting combine. This was a guy that I watched on TV forever, just coming off the Super Bowls, all that goes into that. It was pretty intimidating and he just started peppering me with football questions. You know I had to step up to the plate and convince this guy to draft me. That one was pretty crazy. You know when I got drafted and we came up to New England it was such a whirlwind that I don’t know if I even said more than a couple of words to him at that point, but it was pretty crazy times man. For being a young kid out of Walla Walla, Washington, to be thrust into that position in Boston was pretty crazy.”
How hard was it playing for Bill Parcells?
“Absolutely. It was rough you know. I mean you know how it was. He [Bill Parcells] would stand there right behind the play as it was…I think he did it to you [Scott Zolak]. Yeah he did it to you also [saying] ‘THROW IT! THROW IT! NOW! NOW! NOW!’ Really? You know leave me alone! I do remember walking in. I think the first time you and I met, I think we were throwing over at the Mental Hospital and I came out and I think at that point you were wearing ‘Gargoyles’ with your hair [Zolak] all feathered. I mean it was a pretty special time.”
For the record in your eyes what was it like with Tom Brady during the Super Bowl season because I gotta think there was a part of you, christ it’s human nature, for you to not in your gut, in your heart, think what the hell? I should be the guy out there? What was it like with you and Tom [Brady] at that time?
“You know it was hard. There’s no getting around that, but it wasn’t hard…the difficulty of the situation had nothing to do with Tom [Brady] or really with me. It had to do with the situation where only one guy could be on the field and I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was fair. All of those things. You know at the time and it made the relationship between me and Tom difficult at that point, but again through all of that I think we maintained a healthy level of respect for each other through the course of that season and we’ve maintained a friendship since than. Now looking back on that do I believe that we would have had the same or similar level of success had I not gotten hurt?
Of course I do. That’s the way it works. Would that have been the case?
Who knows. You know I don’t know. That being said with what Tom has done, the way he has played and the way he’s conducted himself on-and-off the field as a leader and a stand-up guy in the community and the world, I’m nothing but proud of him and it’s been a pleasure to watch him through the whole thing. I’ve been a big fan of his ever since I retired I should say. You know been a huge fan of Tom’s. I enjoy watching him play and enjoying watching the Patriots and the success that they’ve had building on what we got going there in the mid-1990′s.”
I think the respect is mutual. You were back last year pushing the wine you make. It was a private function. It was you. It was me. There’s three people that walk in. You see Bill Belichick walk in, and you see Mr.Kraft of course.
Bobby Farrelly was there and than bang [Tom] Brady was there. I think that said a lot for him to come back and show his appreciation for what you have done here?
“Yeah for sure and he’s expressed that numerous times over the years. He was a guy that paid attention. I knew we had a guy that was had a lot of experience. He jumped right in my hip pocket and asked questions. I was always up front and sharing stuff with him and he was able to gain a lot of experience just being a rookie and having a veteran to throw questions at as I did with you. I take some pride in watching what he has done knowing that I was an early mentor for him. Obviously he has gone above-and-beyond everything and everybody, but it’s a good relationship. We keep in touch from time-to-time. I’m really proud and excited to see what Tommy has done with his career and his life.”
You were with Terrell Owens down in Dallas. Was T.O. bad? Is it as bad as people make it out to be?
“You know honestly I didn’t have a problem with the guy with with his attitude, the off-the-field stuff, you know it was I don’t care about that stuff. The problem that I had with T.O. was that I didn’t have him all of training camp and he’s a very different kind of receiver. He’s so big and so fast that he has he just gets going fast. It’s hard for him to come out of breaks and cuts with precision. It’s hard and it requires some time to get use to knowing where he’s going to be and when he’s going to be there. Obviously for me I was never going to be the guy who was going to run around and improvise, so I relied on precision and timing and I was never able to develop that with him. That was the biggest problem I had. All the noise and circus act that goes with it whatever. I dealt with a number of those guys through the course of my career that just needed a hug from time-to-time. The on-the-field part that was the most difficult part for me because we were relying on precision and timing and not having the time to develop that with T.O. was difficult.”