By: Russ Goldman
The New England Patriots announced this year’s finalists for the Patriots Hall Fame which will be voted on by the fans. The voting continues online at Patriots.com through May 15th. The three finalists are Houston Antwine, Bill Parcells, and Drew Bledsoe. These are three quality finalists for the honor. However, I believe there is one finalist that really deserves to be the inductee and it is Drew Bledsoe.
Bledsoe was the overall number 1 draft pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. He came to the Patriots at a time when the organization was really in shambles. They just hired Bill Parcells as the head coach, but there was very little talent on that team at the time. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, and I think Parcells knew at the time he needed a player that would lead the Patriots for seasons to come. Bledsoe was that franchise quarterback.
Bledsoe struggled at times in his first season with the Patriots, but you saw glimpses of what the future could bring with this quarterback. I remember watching the last game of that season against Miami, and thinking we really have something with Bledsoe. He really gave me hope for the future.
The next season really stood out for me with Drew. You could see the improvement in his game. Bledsoe showed he was on his way to becoming an elite quarterback in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots were trailing going into the second half 20-3. Bledsoe went on a passing spree that still leaves chills down my spine thinking about this game. He would eventually lead the team to an overtime 26-20 victory. He ended the game with 45 completions in 70 attempts. Both of these statistics are NFL records that still stand.
Bledsoe would lead the Patriots to winning their last 7 regular season games. The Patriots would lose in the playoffs that season to the Cleveland Browns, but the franchise at that point was back on the rise.
While he didn’t finish his career in New England, Bledsoe definitely helped bring the Patriots back into the spotlight before Tom Brady came to Foxboro. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Bledsoe had a great deal to do with the resurrection of the New England Patriots . He became the face of the franchise.
Another highlight of Bledsoe has to be the 1996 season, where he led the Patriots to the Super Bowl. To lead the team to a Super Bowl, he deserves a good amount of credit for being one of the main reasons they got there.
Bledsoe owns many Patriots records. His records include 4528 passing attempts, 2544 completions, and 29,657 yards.
His numbers are impressive, but what separates him from others is the positive identity he gave the Patriots when they desperately needed it. When he came in James Orthwein owned the team and was trying to sell the franchise. Having a coach like Bill Parcells and a franchise player like Drew Bledsoe were huge factors in turning the club around.
When Bob Kraft then purchased the team in 1994, Bledsoe was the superstar quarterback. Drew would be the face behind the Patriots logo for many years to come. In fact, having a player of Bledsoe’s ability and name recognition probably helped trmendously the worth of the franchise. Make no mistake that Bledsoe had a hand in the ability for the Krafts’ to eventually build Gillette Stadium.
So when you are talking about the Patriots Hall Of Fame, I think many will point to Parcells as being the candidate to vote for. He had a huge role in the Patriots history. Antwine also had a major part in the Boston Patriots, and can make his case for being in the Hall.
However, Drew brought serious interest and notoriety to the Patriots over a long period of time(1993-2001) that I think separates himself from the other candidates. Robert Kraft owes a debt of gratitude to Bledsoe.
Now, do I think Drew should be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame? The answer to that question is absolutely not. In fact, my very first article was entitled “Drew Bledsoe Is Not Worthy Of The Pro Football Hall Of Fame”.
I just don’t think he was one of the best players of all time in Pro Football. However, in regards to the Patriots franchise he deserves to be in their hall.
Bledsoe is an important figure in New England Patriots history. He took the team up from despair, and made it a valuable franchise. In 2001, he passed the torch to Tom Brady who took it to the next level and a dynasty. But, Drew was the foundation before there was a Brady. He should be honored, and always remembered how much he actually meant to the Patriots.