National Football League
Drew Bledsoe shares thoughts on having legacy tied to Tom Brady
National Football League

Drew Bledsoe shares thoughts on having legacy tied to Tom Brady

Published May. 29, 2024 7:50 p.m. ET

Drew Bledsoe does not have any lingering animosity towards Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, even though Belichick demoted him from starting quarterback in 2001 in favor of Brady — the move that spurred a run to that year's Super Bowl title (and five more after that) for the New England Patriots.

But Bledsoe did tell his former Dallas Cowboys teammate Keyshawn Johnson recently that there is one thing that still stings about that benching — how much it affected his own legacy, while Brady and Belichick are now widely regarded as the best quarterback and head coach in NFL history.

"When I retired, there were only, five or six guys in the history of the NFL that had thrown for more yards than me," Blesdose said on the latest episode of Johnson's podcast, "All Facts No Brakes." "[Dan] Marino, [Fran] Tarkenton, [John] Elway, [Warren] Moon, [Brett] Favre, [Vinny] Testaverde, then me. That was the entire list of the people that had thrown for more yards than I had thrown for in my 14 years — pretty nice career, right? But when people look back, you know, all they see is ‘the guy before Tom.'

"That part kind of sucks."


Bledsoe said that he could never have imagined upon Brady's arrival in New England that the skinny sixth-round draft pick would one day take Bledsoe's job, let alone become the best ever.

"I didn't see that whole thing coming, and I don't think anybody else did except maybe Tom himself," Bledsoe said. "So no, there was not a thought in my mind. I thought I was gonna play my entire career for one organization and that we gonna go on and win a few more championships, and it just didn't work out. Life throws you curveballs."

Bledsoe made it clear he has made his peace with that aspect of his legacy, however — as evidenced by the fact that Netflix's hit comedy roast of Brady earlier this month opened with a skit featuring Belichick again "benching" Bledsoe in honor of Brady as the star of the night.

"I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it," Bledsoe continued. "I've lived a pretty damn nice life, got to be an NFL quarterback for 14 years. … I'm not thinking anybody's starting a GoFundMe page for me."

Bledsoe did offer some insight into how the behind-the-scenes process worked for the Brady roast, where he also delivered some jokes. According to Bledsoe, the show's writers sent him several jokes for his set, including references to his current career as owner of Bledsoe Family Winery. 

"They actually sent me some jokes that I turned down and they gave those to Tom, which I thought was kind of funny — picking up my scraps again," Bledsoe said, smiling. "I had a couple glasses of wine before I got there just to calm the nerves a little bit, but you can't have too much. Because then you turn into [Rob Gronkowski]."

Drew Bledsoe: It's 'frustrating' having career tied to Tom Brady

On a previous podcast appearance with FOX Sports NFL analyst and former Patriot Julian Edelman, Bledsoe had touched on the awkwardness of having Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft back together after their falling out was highly publicized in the wake of Belichick's departure from New England months before. But he told Johnson that he believes it was ultimately a healing moment for the two, who he said spoke privately in the green room for 10-15 minutes before the roast.

"You could feel some tension," Bledsoe said. "It's never great when you get back together with the old boss that fired you. I've had that feeling before, actually, with Bill. The first time you get back together, it's not super comfortable. But, I thought it was good for those two guys, for Kraft and for Belichick, that they were both there and got to show some respect for each other even while they were making fun of each other, and to have them there together with Tom, because there's the outside perception that we all know that they all were they all hated each other. 

"And that's never the case. It was a long relationship, more successful than anybody else has ever been. Those things are hard, but ultimately you can tell that there's so much respect there still."

Drew Bledsoe reflects on Patriots tenure, Super Bowl vs. Packers

Johnson, for his part, has immense respect for Bledsoe and his accomplishments in the NFL after playing against him on the New York Jets while Bledsoe was on the Patriots, and then playing with him on the Cowboys. After all, Bledsoe was a No. 1 overall pick like Johnson, but unlike Johnson, Bledsoe was able to reach a Super Bowl with the team that drafted him, when his Patriots lost to Favre and the Green Bay Packers in 1997.

"The sad thing when you make it to the Super Bowl and lose, it's in a lot of ways more painful than not making it at all," Bledsoe said. "Because you get right there and you're so close to your ultimate goal, man, it's painful. I've never watched that Super Bowl game. [Packers defensive lineman] Reggie White wore me out and tried to bury me underneath the astroturf. It hurts, man. It hurts to be in that situation and not win. And then we you know, we get back there in 2001, but [Brady's] on the field, and we won that one, which is great, but that one's a little bit bittersweet as well."

Johnson said he remembers those days of Bledsoe starring with the Patriots — and how envious he was that those New England receivers like Terry Glenn got to catch passes from such a good quarterback.

Keyshawn & Drew Bledsoe revisit their sideline altercation

"I used to look across the field at Bledsoe, and just like Drew said about Tom Brady, that's how I used to feel about Terry Glenn," Johnson said. "I was like, man, this f---er got Drew Bledsoe throwing him the ball.

After getting the chance to play with Bledsoe in Dallas, Johnson considers him among the best quarterbacks he ever caught a pass from.

"You talk about a laser — he just doesn't get too much credit because of what Tom Brady's success meant to the Patriots. But Drew Bledsoe, that m-----f----r was good. He had a big ol' long delivery — He'd pat the ball to sleep every now and then — but he was really good at what he did."

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