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BOSTON (CBS) – As many can imagine, former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was not a fan of being replaced by Tom Brady in 2001.
“It was hard, there’s no getting around that,” Bledsoe told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak on Thursday. “The difficulty of the situation had nothing to do with Tom, or really with me. It had to do with the situation, where only one guy could be on the field”
Bledsoe went down in Week two of the 2001 season, after a hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis left him with a sheared blood vessel in his chest. While Bledsoe was out, Tom Brady stepped in and the Patriots went 11-3 the rest of the regular season. Bledsoe remained on the sidelines, even after he was cleared to play.
“I didn’t like it, I didn’t think it was fair at the time,” said the 1993 first-overall pick. “That made the relationship between me and Tom difficult at that point.”
Bledsoe did not play until the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh. When Brady left with a leg injury in the second quarter, Bledsoe retook the reigns. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, leading the Patriots to a 24-17 victory and the franchise’s third trip to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady was back under center for the team’s 20-17 Super Bowl victory over the Rams a week later.
“Looking back, do I believe we would have had the same or similar success had I not got hurt? Of course I do,” said Bledsoe. “That’s the way it works. Would that have been the case, who knows?”
Bledsoe, in his first year of eligibility for the Patriots Hall of Fame, has remained friends with the man who replaced him, and respects what Brady has done throughout his career.
“What Tom has done, the way he has plays and the way he has conducted himself on and off the field as a leader, a stand-up guy in the community and the world, I’m nothing but proud of him,” said Bledsoe. “It’s been a pleasure to watch him. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I retired. I’ve enjoyed watching him, and the Patriots in their great success they’ve had building on what we got going there in the mid 90’s.”
“I take pride watching what he’s done, knowing that I was an early mentor,” Bledsoe continued. “Obviously he’s gone above and beyond everything and everybody. But it’s a good relationship, we keep in touch from time to time, and I’m really proud and excited to see what he’s done with his career and life.”
Fans can cast their ballot for the Patriots Hall of Fame at Patriots.com through May 15.