When the Patriots selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick in the 1993 draft, there was reason to believe again. The downtrodden franchise had a key ingredient to make the turn toward respectability – a franchise quarterback.
Bledsoe’s rocket right arm generated a new excitement at old Foxboro Stadium. Coach Bill Parcells had the reputation of favoring the running game from his Giants days, but Bledsoe completely changed that mindset. It became Air Parcells, as he let Bledsoe throw 691 pass attempts in 1994, which remains an NFL record.
By that point, Bledsoe was the face of the franchise. A classy one, by most accounts.
This year, in his first crack at the Patriots Hall of Fame, Bledsoe is one of three well-deserving finalists (Parcells and Houston Antwine the others). I think he’s the slam-dunk choice.
Parcells would be a quality selection, but the way he left the franchise – and the distraction he created at the Super Bowl before doing so – is not easily overlooked. Antwine is also deserving; he’s waited too long to have his day in the spotlight.
But it’s going to be tough for them to top Bledsoe.
When it comes to players in Patriots history, few had the impact on the franchise that he did.