Patriots reserve QB is a Drew team player

Emily Arthur

Up until Sunday, it had been a long year for Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

In training camp, Bledsoe lost quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein to a fatal heart attack. Two games into the season, he suffered a life-threatening chest injury in a collision with Jets linebacker Mo Lewis.

If those experiences weren’t enough, when Bledsoe was healthy, he was informed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick he was headed to the bench.

The Patriots were going with little-known Tom Brady, a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, as their starting quarterback. Brady had not started a game before this season.

Belichick proved his choice worked with Brady leading the underdog Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.

However, it was Bledsoe who led the team to the Super Bowl.

When Brady went down with a left leg injury in the first half of Sunday’s game, Bledsoe stepped in and led his team to victory. His stats weren’t flashy (10 of 21 for 102 yards and a touchdown); they weren’t even all that impressive.

However, he didn’t turn the ball over and most importantly, the Patriots got the win.

Watching Bledsoe step in the way he did after what he’s been through this season was moving, but that’s not what is so impressive about the man.

Bledsoe earned my respect with how he handled himself when he was told early on that he wouldn’t be starting.

He didn’t deny that he was upset, but he also didn’t let that anger affect the team.

He became Brady’s right-hand man, counseling him on play-calling and reading defenses, and he offered advice whenever it was necessary.

Bledsoe and Brady became good friends. Bledsoe could be seen as the first player to congratulate Brady after he came off the field and the two even attended the World Series together.

Bledsoe stayed tight-lipped to the press. Only speaking of the quarterback controversy once before not commenting on it again.

It was well documented that Bledsoe and Belichick didn’t talk after the choice was made, but Bledsoe didn’t make that an issue.

He could have been a distraction to his team. But he wasn’t, a fact teammates didn’t take for granted.

“I’m sure he wishes he could physically help us. But he’s been doing things on the sidelines,” teammate Troy Brown said of Bledsoe.

“He was more concerned about his teammates than himself. He didn’t say, `Don’t make it a distraction.’ He just didn’t make it a distraction.”

Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy agreed.

“Drew, his professionalism is second to none,” he said earlier this season. “If that were me, as a veteran, losing my job to injury, trying to focus on the success of the team instead of my situation, it would be a hard apple to swallow. I’m thankful to him that he hasn’t made it much of a distraction.”

When rumors about a trade to Chicago surfaced, Bledsoe shrugged and said, “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of rumors. I’m not going to respond to them. I’m just going to enjoy the rest of the season here.”

And enjoy he has.

Bledsoe is now headed to the Super Bowl. And while odds are he won’t start with Brady saying he feels fine (Belichick still isn’t saying), Bledsoe will at least know that he had a part in getting “his” team to where they’re at.

Maybe even a bigger part than he realizes.

Emily Arthur is a junior in journalism and mass communications from Clark, S.D. She is the assistant sports editor of the Daily.