Monday, September 19, 2011

Drew Bledsoe and his Hall of Fame Return to Foxboro

Is Drew Bledsoe Hall of Fame material?  Does Akron need the gunslinger from Walla Walla, Washington?  He passed for over 44,000 yards, including three 4,000 yard passing seasons and his similar players on Pro Football Reference includes Bart Starr and Kenny Stabler.  But he also had three seasons where his interception total exceeded his touchdown total.  And in New England, he was seen as an underperforming stud quarterback who could never get the Patriots the Lombardi Trophy until Tom Brady was the starting Quarterback.  Whether he gets the call from Roger Goodell this year or not, Bledsoe has been bestowed the honor from Robert Kraft and the Patriots Hall of Fame this year.  Drew Bledsoe was one of my favorite players and with the opportunity to see Scott Zolak in action - well this was cause for a family roadtrip back down to Patriot Place.

5pm.  Foxboro, MA.  The four of us arrive early (LC decides to join us later that evening), not so much to get a good parking spot (we didn't) or to see Lion King 3D (No one wanted to).  We just wanted to go through Hall of Fame, maybe toss the football around for a while and generally enjoy a celebratory atmosphere.  The New England Patriots home opener was happening tomorrow and a palpable buzz was in the air.

After catching some confetti and kicking some field goals at the Hall of Fame - and after unsuccessfully trying to buy the lego set for the Patriots helmet in the lobby of the Hall of Fame - we join a thousand others in the concourse for the ceremony.  Bledsoe is joined in the Hall of Fame by Jon Morris, a Center for the Patriots in the 1960's and 1970's.  A very nice gentleman who stirred the crowd by declaring this ceremony as the Crowning Achievement of his Football Life; unfortunately, none of us were there to see Jon Morris.  Both boys - who mind you were not alive the last time Bledsoe was in New England - started grumbling about all of the "old guys."  I have to admit, I was more interested in Bledsoe myself.  At least Morris recognized this as well.  "I'll start wrapping things up as most of you came here to hear the next guy."

"Yeah, no kidding" some guy next to me whispers to his girlfriend.  Tough crowd. 

But not to be deterred, the induction speech was followed by a round table with Morris' old teammates from the old Boston Patriots.  I think Gino was there and a couple of other guys I didn't recognize.

I didn't have much time to find out who they were either, since the kids started to wrestle with one another and DLG started to get really tired (and when I say tired, I mean she started crying).  So we climb the stairs up to CBS Scene to watch the ceremony on the big screen.  Finally, Bledsoe comes out to talk.  The memories start flooding back.  The nightclub incident with Max Lane, the Super Bowl, the Jets' hit, the AFC Championship game in 2002.  It was all there.  And I find it ironic, after Bill Belichick's discussion with Wes Welker about Wally Pipp in A Football Life, that Drew Bledsoe was the true Wally Pipp.  And on behalf of Patriots Fans everywhere, thanks Mr. Pipp.

Bledsoe goes on to talk about the little dude, Troy Brown and Scott Zolak.  He thanks his offensive line for all of their hard work.  And he goes on to thank Bob and Myra Kraft.  His Mom and famous Dad in the 10 gallon hat seemed proud of his son's accomplishments.  And we were too.  Hey, so what if he underperformed in his nine years here, his last game for the Patriots was a Super Bowl win. 

Midway through his speech, G asks me an interesting question.  "Is Drew Bledsoe the best Quarterback ever?"  He was wondering why he was going to the Hall of Fame and Tom Brady wasn't.

"No, stupidhead. Tom Brady is." C responds not giving me a chance to answer.

And so we see Drew Bledsoe's true legacy in New England.

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