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FOXBORO (CBS) – It may have been Drew Bledsoe getting hurt that changed the face of New England Patriots history, but the quarterback’s effect on the franchise goes much deeper than just that.
After being selected #1 overall in 1993, Bledsoe played nine seasons in New England. He put up amazing offensive numbers, throwing 166 touchdowns and 29,657 yards. He led the Patriots to the 1996 Super Bowl, just the second time in franchise history that New England made it to the big game.
Without Bledsoe, the Patriots would not be the team they are today. And for that reason, he donned a red jacket on Saturday, taking his spot in the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
“You fans, you embraced me as one of your own. It was sometimes good, sometimes not so good; you let me know about it,” Bledsoe said on the stage at Patriots Place. “I learned over the years how passionately you New England fans feel about your sports. You take this stuff serious. I didn’t know that coming from the Northwest.”
“For that reason this honor means more to me than you can imagine,” he said.
Bledsoe Thanks New England Fans
Bledsoe made sure to thank all that played with him over the years, from his offensive linemen to wide receivers, his defense to coaches.
“It’s the ultimate team game. You’re only as good as your weakest player,” said Bledsoe. “I was very fortunate, played with some great men of tremendous character… I’m standing here because of their efforts every bit as much as my own merits.”
One that stood out to Bledsoe was Troy Brown, who will take his spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame very soon.
“I tell people all the time, I went to my first practice as a rookie. I called my old man, he asked me who stood out. I only mentioned one name: Troy Brown,” he said.
And then of course, there is Tom Brady.
“I have to thank another guy who was really a horrible quarterback,” joked Bledsoe. “This number-12 guy, who was a really bad backup quarterback because he didn’t understand the backup part.”
Bledsoe On Tom Brady
“I hope you truly appreciate what you have here. What he is doing on the field is truly special, so make sure you continue to appreciate,” Bledsoe said of Brady.
After thank his teammates and coaches, it was on to the Kraft family. Without them, the Patriots would never be as big as they are, and may not have drafted Bledsoe.
“We all know the things that they’ve done to this region… When you get to the modern era and look and see at the most important points in New England sports history, the purchase of the New England Patriots by the Kraft family is going to be on the very top of that list,” said Bledsoe.
Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills after Tom Brady took over in 2001 and led the team to their first Super Bowl Championship. He finished his 14-year NFL career with 251 touchdowns and over 44,000 yards.
Also inducted on Saturday was offensive lineman Jon Morris, the Patriots first-ever Pro Bowler. He called his election “the most exciting day of my life.”
Robert Kraft introduced both Morris and Bledsoe, and called it a mix of two men that helped shape the franchise.
“To go from Jon to Drew, to see the cross-generation, and see the fans turn out… It’s really super,” said Kraft.