By Patrick Moran
Thursday, August 15th, 2002
If someone would have told Drew Bledsoe around a year or so ago that
he would be quarterbacking the Buffalo Bills in 2002, he might have
had that person committed. Why wouldn't he? Entering 2001, Bledsoe was the
"man" in New England, the toast of the town. In his previous eight seasons
as the Patriots quarterback, Bledsoe practically rewrote the team record
book. He had thrown for over 29,000 (29,257 to be exact) yards and 164
touchdowns. He led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996. He was a popular
fixture in the Boston community. So what went wrong?
It began on September 23rd of last season against the New York Jets.
He was drilled by linebacker Mo Lewis and suffered severe internal
chest injuries. Tom Brady became the starter and the rest was history.
Even once Bledsoe regained his health, he couldn't find his back onto the
field as a starter. New England won the Super Bowl, without Bledsoe at
Although New England won the Super Bowl, they might not have gotten there
if it wasn't for Bledsoe. In the AFC championship game against Pittsburgh,
Bledsoe had to come to the rescue despite not having played for the past
15 games. Brady injured his ankle with 1:40 left in the first half and New
England driving. Bledsoe came off the bench and completed three straight
passes, including an 11-yard TD to David Patten. Drew kept his team
poised and they went on to defeat the Steelers to advance to the Super
On the second day of the NFL draft this past April, Bledsoe's world came
full circle as he was dealt to division-rival Buffalo. If you don't think
he's serious about leading Buffalo back to the playoffs and becoming a part
of this community, you're wrong. Bledsoe along with his wife Maura, just
bought a house in Aurora for $800,000. The Bledsoe's have also put their
multi-million dollar home in Medfield, Massachusetts on sale.
Bills fans have taken well to Bledsoe quickly. He was greeted by thousands
of screaming fans upon his arrival to Buffalo and first press conference
at Ralph Wilson Stadium. His number 11 jersey is already a top-seller.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Bledsoe to discuss among other things,
his time in New England, his relationship with the media, and the future
he holds in Buffalo.
Sports Central: What was your initial reaction when you found out
you were traded to Buffalo?
Drew Bledsoe: Why Buffalo? Why couldn't it have been San Diego?
Why couldn't I have played in warm weather for a change? But very quickly
after it happened, I started thinking a little deeper, a more in-depth look
about the situation. I realized that it's really a great fit, both
organizationally and with the area.
SC: How hard was last season personally for you? After being injured
and eventually losing your starting job to Tom Brady?
DB: Last season for me personally was a very trying year. There were
just so many things that happened. From the September 11 tragedy, to the
0-2 start, to getting hurt and not being able to get back on the field. It
was a pretty emotional time.
SC: You were saluted with dignity in New England for the way you handled
your benching. You never voiced your frustrations openly with the media.
You could have raised the issue with the media. Why didn't you?
DB: I thought about it. But I had good people around me who really
helped me through it. I had my wife to go home to. I had my parents to talk
to and a lot of good friends who supported me. It was a difficult time, but
I think I worked through it the way I did because I had these people around
me to support me.
SC: Did the frustration reach the point before the Super Bowl when
Brady was named the starter? Especially after you came off the bench to lead
your team past Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game?
DB: Sure, I was frustrated. But Tom Brady had a great run with the
team and deserved the chance to win the Super Bowl. What else can I say?
Sure, I wanted to be in there as the starter, but it wasn't meant to be.
SC: You've always been known has having a good relationship with the
media. Is there any particular reason why?
DB: I do respect the media. I respect those in the media who diligently
work their story rather then simply printing the latest rumor or talk show
comments. I really respect the people in the media who attempt to find the
truth in a situation because you can't understand from the outside. You can't
understand from the outside what it's like to be a NFL quarterback and I
wouldn't expect anyone to. If you haven't been there, you can't understand
what it's like on the other side.
SC: Was there ever a time when you were truly pissed off at the media?
DB: There is one time in particular I remember. We lost a playoff
game to Pittsburgh in 1997. Somebody, to this day I still don't remember
who it was, reported that after the game I was in the locker room, laughing
about it and talking about it light-heartedly. That was the one thing, the
one time in my experiences in dealing with the media that really pissed me
off. I don't always show my emotional side to the media, but trust me; nobody
hurts after a loss more then I do.
SC: With this Buffalo team assembled in front of you, it can be argued
that you have more weapons now then you've had in your career. How do you
feel about that?
DB: It's the most excited about football I've been in a while. The
organization is good, and we have good, really young, and talented players.
SC: How much did it mean to you on a personal level to receive the
kind of welcome the fans of Buffalo gave you when you showed up for your
first press conference?
DB: It was crazy. I got into the (practice) facility, I came out,
and they got a few thousand people out there and they've got 97 Rock playing
music. They've got a band out there playing my high school and college fight
songs. It was just crazy and one of the better feelings I've had in my career.
SC: How has the process of adjusting to being the quarterback of the
Buffalo Bills been for you?
DB: The process has happened pretty quickly for me, really in a very
short amount of time where I started feeling like I belong.
SC: You'll be playing in Kevin Gilbride's offensive system.
What are your thoughts on him and his system?
DB: I really do like his system. The reason why is there is a great
deal of flexibility in the offense. He puts a lot on the quarterback and
a lot on the receivers as far as adjusting routes and reading defenses. That
should play more to my abilities.
SC: Your new primary target is Eric Moulds.
DB: I can't tell you how excited I am about getting the chance to
work along with someone like Eric Moulds. He's one of the best receivers
in the league. He's amazingly strong, and he's very fast. Since the first
day I've been in Buffalo, Eric is the first one I'm looking to get on the
same page with. I think Eric and myself are going to provide some very exciting
moments for Bills fans this season.
SC: Since early in camp, you've hooked up a lot with tight end Jay
Reimersma. Your favorite target in New England for many years was another
tight end, Ben Coates. Is that coincidence?
DB: Jay has all the skills you need to be a great receiver. He's big
and he's quick. He has a great set of hands. I expect to be able to go to
him a lot this year and I know he expects the same confidence in him from
SC: From what you've seen in camp, do you feel comfortable with the
offensive line in front protecting you?
DB: The unit is coming along nicely. They've shown already that many
of them are flexible and can play a number of positions. I'm not stupid.
I know these guys are the ones that are going to keep me out of the emergency
SC: What's your opinion on first-round draft pick Mike Williams?
DB: When I first saw him, I was like, "oh my God, is this guy huge."
He's one of the biggest guys I've ever seen. In fact, he's so big, I was
thinking to myself there's no way he can be quick enough to play in this
league. But when I saw him perform in camp, I realized that he's not fat
at all. He's very big and strong, but he's also very agile. He's going to
be a great force on this team and he'll be one of the better tackles in this
league in a very short amount of time.
SC: Would you have felt this comfortable had you been traded to another
organization other then Buffalo?
DB: I can't say for sure but I don't think so. This organization,
this situation, this team seems to be a great fit for me.
SC: When the New England Patriots received their Super Bowl rings
at a party in late-June, you elected to have a friend pick up your ring.
DB: I have great memories of being in that situation (being a member
of New England). But I've moved on. To go back and do something as part of
that team right now just didn't feel right. Now that I'm a Buffalo Bill.
This is my team now. This is where I belong now. The ring I won with New
England will always be a good thing to have. But I'll be more proud of the
one we win here in Buffalo. That will mean more to me.
SC: Former quarterback Jim Kelly has gone out of his way to
say how happy he is that your the starting quarterback for this team.
DB: Jim Kelly was one of my idols as a football player. Jim Kelly
is still a huge presence here in Buffalo, and I've seen him quite a bit.
We've played golf together a few times. I just hope we can get back to that
level of dominance that this team had when Kelly was the quarterback, and
hopefully we can take it one step further than the last step that they were
fortunate enough to take.
SC: Do you see a lot of yourself in Jim Kelly?
DB: It's hard to compare anybody to a Jim Kelly. He was such a ferocious
leader. And as good as his stats were, they paled into comparisons when it
came to the intangibles he brought to the huddle. He was like a coach in
the huddle, a demanding one at that. He demanded a lot from his team and
they gave it to him. I see myself in that light too, although I'm not the
verbal leader Jim Kelly was.
SC: Tell our readers a little about your Drew Bledsoe Foundation
"Parenting With Dignity" program.
DB: My celebrity [status] has given me a chance to meet thousands
of children all over the country. I came to realize that I was very lucky
to grow in my home environment. My dream with this foundation, my goal, is
to address some of the problems that some kids are facing. I want this program
to be a source of information for parents, to give them some tools to create
an encouraging and loving environment for their children.
SC: What do you think of the team's new threads?
DB: They're pretty cool. I like the way they look. I think they also
symbolize that we're a new team with new goals and aspirations. The uniforms
look like a winner, and hopefully we can play the same way on the field.
SC: Besides the obvious in winning a Super Bowl, what are some of
your other goals as a member of the Buffalo Bills?
DB: I don't want this organization to ever get to the point where
they say that the problem is at quarterback, let's change the quarterback.
Hopefully, they'll never get to that. I'm very proud that this organization
researched all their options and came to the conclusion that the best option
was to trade for me.
SC: Finally, you've been around this league for many years now, and
you've seen many teams. How talented is this Bills team you're a leader of
DB: Right now, we've got that dangerous word, potential. We've got
some playmakers on this team. We've got an offensive line that's looking
good if they can stay healthy. But just cause we have potential doesn't mean
anything because we haven't accomplished anything yet. I like the guys I'm
throwing the ball to and I like the guys who are carrying the ball. But we
haven't accomplished anything. Not yet.