Drew Bledsoe

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Drew Bledsoe
DrewBledsoe2012.png
Bledsoe at Troy Brown's induction into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
No. 11
Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1972-02-14) February 14, 1972 (age 42)
Place of birth: Ellensburg, Washington
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 238 lb (108 kg)
Career information
High school: Walla Walla (WA)
College: Washington State
NFL Draft: 1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Debuted in 1993 for the New England Patriots
Last played in 2006 for the Dallas Cowboys
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT 251–206
Passing yards 44,611
Passer rating 77.1
Stats at NFL.com

Drew Bledsoe (born February 14, 1972)[2] is a former American football quarterback who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL), best known as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots from 19932001. During the 1990s, he was considered the face of the Patriots franchise. Bledsoe, a Pro-Bowler, All-American for the Washington State Cougars and No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, announced his retirement from the sport on April 11, 2007.[3]

High school years[edit]

Bledsoe attended Walla Walla High School and was a letterman in football and basketball. In football, he was named a first team All-State selection by the Tacoma News Tribune.

College years[edit]

Bledsoe only stayed at Washington State for 3 years but still managed to put together a record-setting career. After gaining the starting job in the end of the 1990 season as a true freshman (joined later by Jeff Tuel as the only two in school history), he quickly became the face of the Cougars offense. In 1992 Bledsoe led his team to a 9–3 record (ranking #10 in the coaches poll and #12 in the AP) and a 31–28 win against the Utah Utes in the Copper Bowl. Bledsoe completed 30-46 passes for 476 yards and 2 TDs in the game. He also established WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and single-season passing yards (3,946). He was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

Following an impressive junior year Bledsoe decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 1993 NFL Draft. In the 34 starts of his collegiate career he amassed 9,373 yards, 532 completions and 66 touchdowns.[4]

NFL career[edit]

New England Patriots: 1993–2001[edit]

Bledsoe was drafted first overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He started right away for the Patriots in his rookie season, as they improved from two to five wins.

On November 13, 1994, the Patriots had won just three of their first nine games and were losing, 20–3, to the Minnesota Vikings at halftime. Bledsoe led a comeback victory in which the Patriots won, 26–20, in overtime, as he set single game records in pass completions (45) and attempts (70).[5] By remaining undefeated throughout the succeeding games, the Patriots earned their first postseason appearance in eight years.[6] Bledsoe started all 16 games that season and went on to set a NFL record in pass attempts (691), becoming the second NFL quarterback to complete 400 or more passes in a season (400), and led the league in passing yards (4,555).[7] Due to his performance, Bledsoe was selected to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate.

Following a difficult 1995 season, Bledsoe turned it around in 1996 ranking among the top passers in the league with the help of wide receiver Terry Glenn, thus pushing the Patriots to reach the playoffs again and winning the AFC championship against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 20–6. This led to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers by the score of 35–21. Bledsoe completed 25 of 48 passes for 253 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions in the loss. He was also named a starter for the Pro Bowl that season, the second of his career.

Bledsoe in 2001, during his tenure with the Patriots.

During the 1997 season, Bledsoe helped the Patriots win five of their final seven games to once again qualify for the playoffs, the fourth time in eight years as a Patriots starter he would lead the team to a postseason appearance. The Patriots lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Steelers, however Bledsoe built a career-high 87.7 passer rating, passed for 3706 yards, tossed 28 Touchdowns, and earned his third Pro Bowl invitation.

The following year, he became the first NFL quarterback to complete game-winning touchdown passes in the final 30 seconds of two consecutive games.[8] In doing so, he propelled New England into the postseason for the third straight year. He completed these come-from-behind efforts while playing with a broken index finger on his throwing hand, an injury that would later sideline him for the postseason.

Bledsoe started the 1999 season very strong, with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions as the Patriots held a 6–2 mid-season record. However, Bledsoe subsequently threw only six touchdowns versus 17 interceptions, and the team finished with an 8–8 record. The team's slide continued into the 2000 season as the Patriots ended with a record of 5–11. While Bledsoe threw a then career low 13 interceptions that year, he was sacked 45 times.

Nonetheless, in March 2001, Bledsoe was signed to a then-record ten-year, $103 million contract.[9] Bledsoe did not, however, finish his career with the Patriots, nor even see the opening of the new Gillette Stadium. During the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis and suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest. Replacing Bledsoe at quarterback, soon-to-be superstar All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to an eventual Super Bowl championship. Though he never regained his starting role, Bledsoe nevertheless proved integral to his team's playoff run when he replaced a hobbled Brady in the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh. Bledsoe, starting from the Steelers 40-yard line, capped a scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to David Patten to seal a 24–17 victory. In gaining the conference title Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.[10]

Appreciative of his lengthy tenure with the team, Patriots fans cheered Bledsoe in each of his three returns to New England as a visiting player.

Bledsoe's #11 jersey was not re-issued until the 2009 season, when Julian Edelman took the number.

On May 16, 2011, Bledsoe was voted by Patriots fans into the Patriots Hall of Fame.[11] He was formally inducted in a public ceremony outside The Hall at Patriot Place on September 17, 2011. Bledsoe beat former head coach Bill Parcells and defensive lineman Houston Antwine in a fan vote.

Buffalo Bills: 2002–2004[edit]

A change of scenery—by way of a trade[12]—to Bledsoe's former division rival Buffalo seemed to give him a bit of rejuvenation in 2002. He had one of his best seasons ever, passing for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns and making his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl. In Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, Bledsoe set a team record with 463 yards passing in an overtime win. He continued his strong play in 2003 as the Bills began the year 2–0. However, a flurry of injuries stymied the Bills offense; they failed to score a touchdown in three consecutive games en route to a 6–10 season. In 2004, they fell one game short of making the playoffs; a late season winning streak went for naught when Bledsoe and the Bills performed poorly against the Pittsburgh Steelers backups in the season finale.[13]

Bledsoe was released by the Bills after the 2004 season to make way for backup quarterback J.P. Losman. It was the second time that his team had let him go for a younger quarterback. When Bledsoe was later signed by the Dallas Cowboys, he expressed bitterness with the Bills for the move, stating "I can't wait to go home and dress my kids in little stars and get rid of the other team's [Buffalo's] stuff."[14]

Bledsoe stretching before a game with the Cowboys in 2005.

Dallas Cowboys: 2005–2006[edit]

Bledsoe with Greg Ellis in a 2006 game.

Bledsoe went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was reunited with former coach Bill Parcells. Bledsoe intended on being a long-term solution at quarterback for the Cowboys. Said Bledsoe on the day he signed with Dallas, "Bill [Parcells] wants me here, and being the starter. I anticipate that being the case and not for one year." He signed for $23 million for three years.[15]

During his tenure with the Cowboys, he threw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the ninth time in his career, tying Warren Moon for fourth in NFL history. That season, Bledsoe led five 4th quarter/OT game-winning drives to keep the Cowboys’ playoff hopes alive until the final day of the season.[16] Though the team ultimately failed to reach the playoffs, Bledsoe had led them to a 9-7 record, an improvement over the 6-10 mark that Vinny Testaverde had finished with in 2004.

However, in 2006, his final season with the Cowboys, Bledsoe's play became erratic, so much so that six games into the season he was replaced by then-backup and soon to be Pro Bowler Tony Romo. Shortly after the end of the 2006 season, Bledsoe was released by the Cowboys. Unwilling to be relegated to a backup position, Bledsoe announced his retirement from the NFL on April 11, 2007.[3]

Retirement and legacy[edit]

When Bledsoe retired in April 2007, he left fifth in NFL history in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251).

In July of 2012, Bledsoe was named the thirtieth greatest quarterback of the NFL's post-merger era, according to Football Nation.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Drew and his wife Maura live in Bend, Oregon and have four children: sons Stuart, John and Henry, and daughter Healy. He coached his sons', Stuart and John's, football team named the Mountaineers.[18]

While playing for the New England Patriots, Drew Bledsoe lived in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on Tabway Lane, and in Medfield, Massachusetts in the house that is currently owned by retired Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling. Right before his departure from the New England Patriots and the town of Medfield, he donated football cleats to the entire Medfield High School football team.

After his retirement in 2007, Bledsoe founded the Doubleback Winery along with close friend Chris Figgins. The company's grapes are harvested from McQueen Vineyards and Flying B Vineyards, located in and around Walla Walla, Washington. The wine has had success recently, placing 53rd overall in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines.[19] His first vintage which was 2007 vintage quickly sold out of its initial 600 cases.[20] In 2012, Marvin R. Shanken invited Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Tom Seaver and Bledsoe to introduce his wines, despite Shanken's disdain for New England Patriots.[21]

Bledsoe also has a vested interest in Bledsoe Capital Group, which is committed to facilitating the capitalization, development, and marketing of its diverse holdings and investments.

In his spare time, he also works with many philanthropic organizations.[18]

Drew is now the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon.[22]

Statistics[edit]

Career stats[edit]

Passing Stats
Year Team Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int QB rating
1993 New England Patriots 429 214 49.9 2,494 15 15 65.0
1994 New England Patriots 691 400 57.9 4,555 25 27 73.6
1995 New England Patriots 636 323 50.8 3,507 13 16 63.7
1996 New England Patriots 623 373 59.9 4,086 27 15 83.7
1997 New England Patriots 522 314 60.2 3,706 28 15 87.7
1998 New England Patriots 481 263 54.7 3,633 20 14 80.9
1999 New England Patriots 539 305 56.6 3,985 19 21 75.6
2000 New England Patriots 531 312 58.8 3,291 17 13 77.3
2001 New England Patriots 66 40 60.6 400 2 2 75.3
2002 Buffalo Bills 610 375 61.5 4,359 24 15 86.0
2003 Buffalo Bills 471 274 58.2 2,860 11 12 73.0
2004 Buffalo Bills 450 256 56.9 2,932 20 16 76.6
2005 Dallas Cowboys 499 300 60.1 3,639 23 17 83.7
2006 Dallas Cowboys 170 90 53.3 1,164 7 8 69.2
Totals 6,717 3,839 57.2 44,611 251 206 77.1

Post-season records and statistics[edit]

  • 4–3 record in post-season
  • 3–3 in the post-season as a starter (3-0 at home)
  • 252 passes attempted
  • 129 passes completed
  • 51.1 Completion Percentage
  • 54.9 QB Rating
  • 1335 passing yards
  • 6 passing touchdowns
  • 12 passes intercepted
  • 21 passing attempts per interception in the post-season
  • 42 passing attempts per TD in the post-season
  • 2–0 in AFC Championship games (in last Patriots appearance came off bench for injured Brady to win at Pittsburgh January 2002)
  • 1 Super Bowl Championship (2001, New England Patriots)

Accomplishments[edit]

  • His 4,452 pass attempts in his first eight seasons rank second to Brett Favre whose 4,456 attempts are the most by a quarterback during any eight-year period in NFL history
  • He passed for 3,291 yards in 2000, his seventh consecutive season with at least 3,000 yards passing.
  • Bledsoe was durable during his career, playing in 126 of his first 132 games since entering the league in 1993, and never missing a start after leaving NE until benched in 2006.
  • In 2002, his first season in Buffalo, he set single season records for yards, attempts, completions on an offense that had 7 other franchise records.
  • In 1998, he directed the Patriots to the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.
  • In 1994, he set Patriots franchise single-season passing records for attempts (691), completions (400) and yards passing (4,555; surpassed by Tom Brady in 2007).
  • In 1995, he set a franchise record by attempting 179 consecutive passes without an interception (10/23/95 to 11/26/95; since surpassed by Tom Brady).
  • At the age of 23, he became the youngest player in NFL history to surpass the 10,000-yard passing plateau when he connected with Ben Coates on a 6-yard completion just before the half vs. the Jets (12/10/95).
  • Prior to 1994, the Patriots' single-season record for passing yards was 3,465 yards. Bledsoe eclipsed that mark six consecutive seasons.
  • At the age of 22, he became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to play in the Pro Bowl.
  • Bledsoe is the only QB in NFL history with 4 seasons of 600+ pass attempts, including 3 straight from 1994–96
  • Led 31 career 4th quarter/OT game-winning drives and holds the record for most TD passes in overtime with 4.
  • Bledsoe, as of 2013, remains the last quarterback to have led the Buffalo Bills to a winning season.

While Bledsoe's has thrown for a high number of yards and attempts, a frequent criticism is that they are based on volume (attempts, completions, yards) rather than efficiency (passer rating, TD-to-INT ratio, yards per attempt) proving only that he has thrown a great number of times, not that he has thrown well.[23] According to sports writer Don Banks, Bledsoe's large career totals "reveal more about his longevity than about his excellence".[24]

Bledsoe ranks fifth all-time in completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251). Bledsoe's career (57.2) completion percentage is lower than all recent Hall of Fame quarterbacks with the exception of John Elway. Bledsoe's NFL career passer rating of (77.1) surpasses nine Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. Bledsoe's 37 regular season 300-yard passing games ranks 9th in league history. He also ranks 6th (with 6) in most career regular season 400-yard passing games by an NFL quarterback. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times (in 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002). Bledsoe was eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Drew Bledsoe NFL Football Statistics - Pro-Football-Reference.com
  2. ^ "Drew Bledsoe Biography". Biography.com. A&E Networks. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Bledsoe retires, ends 14-year career". ESPN. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  4. ^ "Washington State Scout". Washington State Scout. 2002-07-09. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  5. ^ Patriots Official Website.. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  6. ^ James Alder. "Patriots Playoff History". Football.about.com. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  7. ^ 1994 NFL Leaders.. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  8. ^ Patriots Official Website. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  9. ^ Bledsoe Signs Record Contract Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  10. ^ Bledsoe Heads to Buffalo for 2003 Pick ESPN.com. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  11. ^ "Bledsoe is 2011 Fans' Choice". The Hall at Patriot Place. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Boston Sports Media Watch » Bledsoe Traded As stated here". Bostonsportsmedia.com. April 21, 2002. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  13. ^ Maiorana, Sal (2005-02-17). "Bills saying goodbye to Bledsoe". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  14. ^ N.F.L. ROUNDUP; Bledsoe Rejoins Parcells, With Eye on Starting Job at New York Times
  15. ^ USA Today: Bledsoe expecting long, prosperous stay in Dallas
  16. ^ JT-SW.com. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Modern Quarterbacks: 40-21". Football Nation. July 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b No sour grapes from retired Bledsoe Dallas Morning News. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  19. ^ Peter King (November 29, 2010). "Josh McDaniels tape; Cortland Finnegan-Andre Johnson fight; more Week 12". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  20. ^ Catching up with former No. 1 pick Drew Bledsoe - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
  21. ^ Sports Legend, Wine Lover: Drew Bledsoe
  22. ^ Summit Football Coaches | Summit Storm Bend Oregon
  23. ^ CHFF classic: The last word on Bledsoe ColdHardFootballFacts.com. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  24. ^ No Hall call for Bledsoe SportsIllustrated.com. Retrieved 30 June 2007.

External links[edit]