|Drew Bledsoe is ‘humbled’ to be entering the Patriots Hall of Fame||09.15.11 at 5:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After trying on his Patriots Hall of Fame jacket (46 XXL) for the first time, Drew Bledsoe took a trip down memory lane on Thursday, two days before he becomes the first Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning player to enter the franchise’s hall of fame.
He gave it up for Tom Brady‘s 517 yards, the Robert Kraft family and even the old Foxboro Stadium. He actually liked it! Bledsoe will be inducted into the Patriots hall of fame on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. It’s free and open to the public.
What are your favorite Bledsoe memories?
Here are his two:
“Coming back in in that AFC Championship game against the Steelers,” Bledsoe said of his relief appearance of the injured Tom Brady in the Jan. 2002 game that preceded their epic Super Bowl win over the Rams. “That was a poignant moment for me for a lot of reasons. The magnitude of the game, having not been able to play for quite a while and being able to get back on the field for that game. That one stands out.”
Then there’s the greatest Patriots’ passing game before last Monday night. It was Nov. 1994 when the Patriots found themselves trailing the Vikings, 20-3, and standing just 3-6 on the season.
Bledsoe threw touchdowns to Ray Crittenden and Leroy Thompson, the Patriots defense shut down the Vikings, and Matt Bahr kicked the tying field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. That was also the game that Patriots captain Vincent Brown protested the Vikings team captain’s call on the OT coin flip because he called after the coin landed on the ground. The Patriots won the re-toss and Bledsoe led the Patriots down field and fired a 32-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Turner.
The game against the Vikings back in my second year stands out. It was kind of a turnaround for us. It allowed us to make a run at the playoffs for the first time in quite a while.”
The 26–20 win ended a four-game losing streak. Bledsoe (426 yards) set NFL single-game records with 70 throws and 45 completions. Brady was a mere 32-of-48 on Monday.
Bledsoe got into the hall thanks to the fans, their choice for induction, receiving the highest percentage since fan voting started in 2007. Former center Jon Morris was selected by the just-created Seniors’ Committee, which will convene occasionally to make sure players are not overlooked.
Both had the chance to speak to the significance of this weekend’s ceremony.
“It’s kind of surreal – I live a pretty normal life back in Oregon, you know, I’m coaching flag football and playing some golf and making some wine and then all of a sudden to come back into this world again when I haven’t been involved in it in quite a while, it’s very cool.
“It’s very cool and to be able to share it with my kids now that they’re a little bit older and understand a little more that it’s kind of a big deal is really fun.”
Bledsoe is often credited – along with Bill Parcells and Robert Kraft – for bringing the franchise out of the doldrums that it was mired in since the early 1970s.
“It’s humbling but it’s also something that I take great pride in,” Bledsoe said. “I take great pride in being a part of those teams – and I emphasize being a part of those teams – being a quarterback, obviously it’s the same old game where you get more credit than you deserve, but being a part of those teams that started to turn this franchise in the right direction is something I take a lot of pride in.”
Morris received word from owner Robert Kraft, an invitation as he put it, to become enshrined in Foxboro.
“I’m tremendously overwhelmed because I was nominated several times and I didn’t win through the fans’ vote and really never thought there was much chance I would win through the fans’ vote since most of the fans that are voting weren’t even born when I played, so I didn’t think there was every going to be a chance of that. So when this Senior Committee came along, it took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t aware of it. I had given up hope, I really had, and I was very, very disappointed I was never going to make it,” Morris said.
“But all of a sudden I get this phone call and it’s actually Robert Kraft that calls to tell you that you’re in – he makes the call himself – and he said…how’d he put it? He said, ‘I hope you would do us the honor of accepting my invitation to join the Hall of Fame and I said, ‘well, ok, I think I will.’ And that’s how I found out. And it’s just a thrill; it’s a huge thrill for me, especially since it came as such a surprise.”
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