Stats say Bledsoe deserves Hall of Fame

Does Drew Bledsoe belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The numbers suggest he does.

The numbers, however, also show Hall of Fame milestones are changing.

In a piece for "The Fifth Down" blog at NYTimes.com, quarterback statistician Luis DeLoureiro takes a look at the traditional assurances for induction. In the past multiple championships or 40,000 yards passing have meant an automatic bronze bust in Canton.

All seven quarterbacks who've been eligible for the Hall and have thrown for 40,000 yards have gotten in. Two more are active and should enter on the first ballot: Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

Dan Marino, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton and Dan Fouts didn't win titles. Moon and Fouts never appeared in a Super Bowl.

So what about Bledsoe?

He threw for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdowns in 14 seasons with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. He reached two Super Bowls with the Patriots, losing as a starter and winning as Tom Brady's backup.

But everyone knows the NFL has evolved. Passing numbers are prolific compared to 10 years ago.

New York Jets and Patriots quarterback Vinny Testaverde is another example. He threw for even more yards than Bledsoe did. The Heisman Trophy winner rolled up 46,233 yards and 275 touchdowns, ranking among the top eight all-time in each category

DeLoureiro, who also writes for NFLStatAnalysis.net, noted the only two quarterbacks of the Super Bowl era to enter the Hall of Fame without 40,000 yards or multiple championships were Steve Young and Jim Kelly.

Both presented special cases. Young started only eight seasons and was a two-time league MVP. Kelly took the Bills to four straight Super Bowls.

Tom Donahoe, the former Bills general manager, use to refer to Bledsoe as a future Hall of Famer, a comment that always sounded ridiculous to me.

It still does.