Bledsoe Receives Unwarranted Cheap Shot

Ian Logue
January 23, 2002 at 9:47 pm ET

There seems to exist a world where those who praise second-year quarterback Tom Brady aren’t able to do it without taking cheap shots at current back up Drew Bledsoe. It’s happened throughout the season on talk radio with fans comparing Bledsoe with Brady and the number of “what-if’s” should circumstances have worked out differently. They’ll talk about Brady’s strong points and point out deficiencies in Bledsoe that would make you wonder how in the world he ever lasted as long as he did as the starter for this team and organization.

It needs to come to an end.

Why? Because it was taken too far in a column written in the Boston Herald by Metrowest Daily News columnist Tom Curran who felt it was time to rip apart a man who during his tenure as the quarterback of this football team has been the consummate professional. If his team lost he blamed himself and took responsibility, if they won it was because his teammates made it happen.

He said later that evening in a radio appearance on WEEI that his column was loaded with facts and numbers to back it up. The article pointed to playoff stats in which he showed Bledsoe’s career numbers in the postseason. He was 119-for-231, 1,233 yards, five touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His career completion percentage in the playoffs is 51.5. His quarterback rating is 52.8.

He then goes on to point out (and this apparently is a big point of his) that Bledsoe’s average yards per attempt is 5.3, and that after completing more than 60 percent of his passes with a QB rating of 70.4 and a yards-per-attempt average over 6 (.0 something…very far over 6 indeed), that he leads Bledsoe in every category including the fact that “he did in it a blizzard.”

I wouldn’t exactly call a .7 differential in yards-per attempt and a 10% difference in completion percentage over the span of five fewer games (Brady’s played in only one game) a staggering differential. Brady finished without a touchdown pass and threw an interception, but did run the ball in from six yards out to score a touchdown Saturday evening. It was an impressive feat, and those who watched the game were ecstatic that this young kid came in and made a play to help his team win their first postseason game. However to use it to rip another player and take away from past achievements is something that simply is leaving many people shaking their heads.

Yet a more foolish comment. “The plain truth is, ever since coming to New England as the No. 1 overall pick in 1993, the higher the stakes, the smaller Drew Bledsoe played,” wrote Curran. “And that’s a damning fact for the big lug to lug around.”

Very true. Leading your team to the Superbowl, including two come-from behind victories during the season that year of more than two touchdowns certainly doesn’t count. The last rally that season came at the Meadowlands against the New York Giants that clinched the first round bye for his team. Hardly very deserving of being called a lug.

“But wait, we’ve got some more ugly for you,” Curran continued. “Bledsoe’s career record against winning teams (those that finished the year .500 or better) was 32-55. From 1997 on it was 14-27. This season, Brady was 2-3.

2-3. Very impressive. Fear not young Brady, that will likely be used against you eight years from now.

But the one that he took too far was when he took away from the accomplishments that anyone who has followed his career and know anything about football will ever forget.

“Bledsoe’s most memorable individual games came when the team was on life-support and little was expected,” wrote Curran. “Think about it. The 1994 comeback win against the Vikings? The Pats were 3-6 and dead in the water until Bledsoe went bananas in the second half.”

“The ’97 road win at Jacksonville when the Pats were without Curtis Martin and others? They had no business expecting to win,” continued Curran. “Even the now-hallowed broken finger comeback wins against Miami and Buffalo. Heading into those games in 1998, the Pats were 6-5 and running on fumes. Nobody expected them to win.”

That may be, but the point is they did. To take it one step further, had Bledsoe not won those two key division games, they wouldn’t have been able to sustain Scott Zolak’s loss to the Jets and still made it to the postseason. Last I checked Division games were extremely important, but apparently Mr. Curran doesn’t seem to think so.

The only problem for Bledsoe was he played two week’s later against St. Louis, and in that game took a hit that caused the pins to come through the skin and further injure his finger. Thanks to his bravery he now has a permanent slight crook to that finger.

That apparently is forgotten, and so was the fact that he has been a class individual throughout this season after losing his job to Brady. It could have turned into a major distraction for his team, yet Bledsoe swore that he would do everything in his power to keep that from happening. It showed what a true professional he is, and it also showed how important it is to him to do what he can to help his team win.

The problem is those who are given a microphone or a newspaper column apparently can’t show that same professional courtesy. It’s easy to sit behind a microphone or write a newspaper column and attack a person who doesn’t have the opportunity to defend himself. It’s a luxury that sometimes causes those people to say or write things that they could end up regretting, and this is one that certainly should fall under that category.

Here’s one simple fact Mr. Curran. Bledsoe’s a quarterback who does know how to win. History has shown it. He’s had only three losing seasons in his eight years as the starting quarterback, leading his team to the postseason four times including a Superbowl.

You can bet Bledsoe has seen this article by now, and if he hasn’t read it, he’s heard about it. Yet you’ll never hear a word from him, he’ll dismiss it as yet another mis-informed reporter taking a cheap shot at him, which is exactly the way it should be acknowledged.

Even his fellow friends in the media weren’t impressed with his column. After receiving criticism from WEEI’s mid day host Dale Arnold, Curran sent Arnold an e-mail during the show as a “rebuttal”, claiming that he had “three children and didn’t have time for a vendetta” against the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

Here’s a thought: Bledsoe has a family of his own that probably doesn’t have time for cheap shots either.

The column didn’t prove anything other than the fact that it’s time for the nonsense to end. It’s time to start enjoying the team’s success without tearing down the man that last got them to where they are now.

He deserves better. It’s time for people to finally realize that. There are those who have accepted the fact that he probably won’t be back next year, and that’s fine. But send him off the way he deserves, and that’s with respect and dignity.

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