When you think of New England Patriots quarterbacks, without a question, the first one that comes to mind is Tom Brady. However, before there was Tom Brady, there was Drew Bledsoe, the former No. 1 overall pick. Despite having a solid career and bringing the Patriots to a Super Bowl in the 90s, Drew Bledsoe has gotten the reputation of “the guy who came before Tom Brady”.
Because the four-time Pro Bowl QB deserves more respect, we’re going to fill you in on more about Drew Bledsoe and check in on where he is now.
Early life and introduction to football
Born in the state of Washington, to two teachers, Bledsoe was introduced to football at a young age. His father was a football coach who hosted a camp, which NFL players and high level coaches helped him run. Drew attended the camp and was able to interact with some of the best football minds in the country.
Bledsoe played football for his local high school, where his dad was the coach. While in high school, he received just about every award a quarterback could get, including Washington State Football Player Of The Year. He pretty much dominated the competition all throughout high school, receiving offers from the best college football programs in the country. When it came time to make his college decision, Drew picked Washington State so he could play close to home.
Drew Bledsoe in college
Because he was such a highly-touted recruit, Bledsoe was a big shot from the moment he arrived on campus. Although he wasn’t immediately named the starter, he took over as QB1 half way through the season. During his freshman year he played in seven games and threw nine touchdown passes. By the end of the 1990 season there was no questioning who the Cougars’ starting quarterback was.
Bledsoe’s second season wasn’t exactly electric. The Cougars went 4-7 and Bledsoe’s 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions was not-so-impressive. Although they didn’t win many games, Wazzu did come out on top against 25th ranked Arizona State.
Drew’s junior season is when things really started to take off. He was one of the most dominant QBs in college football, and the Cougars went 9-3, including a Copper Bowl victory over Utah. On top of having a winning record, Bledsoe led the Cougars to a 42-23 win over the No. 5 ranked rival Washington Huskies.
During his junior year, Bledsoe broke Washington State’s records for passing yards in a single game and single season. He was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of The Year and established himself as a top NFL Draft prospect. To nobody’s surprise, Bledsoe chose to forego his senior season and entered his name into the NFL Draft.
Bledsoe’s Early Days in the NFL
With the first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, Bledsoe was selected by the New England Patriots. As a rookie, he was named the starter and led the Patriots to a 5-11 record. New England got off to a 3-6 start in Bledsoe’s second season, but everything changed during a week 10 matchup against the Vikings. After trailing by 17 points at halftime, Bledsoe didn’t quit, and broke the NFL’s single game record for completions, leading the Patriots to victory.
New England carried that momentum with them for the rest of the season, winning the next six games and earning a spot in the playoffs. Although the Patriots lost to the Browns in the Wild Card round, things were looking up for the young quarterback.
Super Bowl XXXI
In 1996, Bledsoe became the star QB everyone thought he could be. He was recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and once again led New England to the playoffs. After being awarded a bye, the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.
Bledsoe and the Patriots were up against NFL MVP Brett Favre and the 13-3 Green Bay Packers. Highlighted by a Desmond Howard kick return for a touchdown and Brett Favre’s 81 yard touchdown pass Antonio Freeman, the Packers beat the Patriots 35-21.
Despite the poor performance in the Super Bowl, Bledsoe kept putting up big numbers. He made the Pro Bowl again in 1997 and lead the Patriots to the playoffs the next two seasons. Bledsoe began to slow down in 1999, but remained the Patriots starting QB into 2001.
The Drew Bledsoe – Tom Brady connection
Coming into the 2001 season, Bledsoe signed a ten-year, 103 million dollar contract. What seemed like a deal that could keep him in New England for the rest of his career turned out to be nothing more than a piece of paper with a signature on it.
During Week 2 of the 2001 season, Bledsoe suffered a serious injury to his chest. He was replaced by a QB by the name of Tom Brady and the rest was history. The team caught fire with Brady under center, and committed to him as the full-time starter, even after Bledsoe returned from injury. Despite signing a big contract to stay in New England, it looked like Bledsoe’s days as a Patriot were numbered.
Many people assume that Bledsoe must hold some sort of grudge against Brady for stealing his spot, and at first he did. When asked about losing his job, Bledsoe said, “That was a bitter pill to swallow. I thought I was entitled to get my job back, and it turns out I wasn’t, and it doesn’t work that way.”
As time went by, Bledsoe says he “did some soul-searching, and decided that the only proper way to handle it was to go back to work and be the best teammate.” Although the team belonged to Brady, Bledsoe gifted Patriots nation with one last performance in the AFC Championship.
During the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, Brady went down with an injury and Bledsoe had to enter the game. He led the Patriots down the field and threw a touchdown to David Patten. Bledsoe took charge and led the Patriots to another Super Bowl appearance. He may have lost the starting job to Brady, but he certainly played a big role in the Patriots winning their first Super Bowl.
The Rest of Bledsoe’s Career, Final Stats
After the 2001 season, the Patriots traded Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills. While many thought Bledsoe’s career was over, he had one of his best seasons and earned his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl. His Bills teams were never that good, coming close to making the playoffs just once, but Bledsoe certainly had some good football left in the tank.
After a few years in Buffalo, Bledsoe signed with the Dallas Cowboys. In his first year in Dallas, Bledsoe led the Cowboys to a 9-7 record, just barely missing the playoffs. The following year his play significantly dropped off and he was replaced by another future star, Tony Romo.
Bledsoe was released shortly after the season and decided to retire.
In his 13 year NFL career, Drew Bledsoe finished with 44,611 yards, 251 touchdowns, and 206 interception, posting a 98-95 career record a starter.
Bledsoe Wine Estates, His Net Worth
After Bledsoe retired from the NFL, he dove headfirst into one of his other passions, wine. He and his family opened up three very successful vineyards in his home state of Washington. Bledsoe-McDaniels Winery, Doubleback Winery and Bledsoe Family Winery all fall under the Bledsoe Wine Estates umbrella.
On the winery’s website it says “Bledsoe Wine Estates is a family of brands in the Pacific Northwest founded by former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe and his Wife, Maura. These high integrity projects, in collaboration with Winemaker Josh McDaniels, are focused on sustainably crafting the best wines in America.”
Personal life and where Bledsoe is now
Bledsoe currently manages his wine business and lives in Bend, Oregon with his family. He coached the Summit High School football team where his three sons played. His son John was the star QB and his son Stuart was a talented WR. John Bledsoe went on to play for Washington State, but transferred to the University of San Diego in the fall of 2020.
Bledsoe seems like he’s living the life. He has a Super Bowl ring, a great family and a bustling wine business. While he may be known as the guy who lost his job to Tom Brady, Bledsoe doesn’t let it get in the way of him living his best life.