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Bledsoe reflects on time in New England

9/16/2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Truth be told, Drew Bledsoe didn't even know he still held the Patriots' single-game record for passing yards until Tom Brady's 517-yard effort Monday night in Miami wrestled it away. That didn't stop him from feigning some mock incredulousness at his former teammate.

"I thought it was extremely selfish of him; I’m coming out here for the Hall of Fame and you can’t leave my name in the records book in one place," joked Bledsoe. "No, actually, I was quite surprised, honestly, to hear that I still had one of those records, to be perfectly honest. But Tom’s never been a guy that worries or thinks about numbers other than wins and losses; It's truly not a big deal to him."

Bledsoe is back in Foxborough this week as both he and center Jon Morris will be enshrined in the Patriots Hall of Fame on Saturday. Visiting the Hall on Thursday as part of a speaker series, Bledsoe talked about the "normal" life he lives back in Oregon where he makes wine and coaches his son's flag football teams; his part in turning the franchise around; and his favorite memories of New England.

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

Former quarterback Drew Bledsoe tries on his red Patriots Hall of Fame jacket Thursday.He also gushed about Brady, the man that essentially ended his reign as the Patriots' franchise quarterback.

"We exchange text messages from time to time," said Bledsoe. "I'm so proud of that guy and what he’s done -- and the way that he’s done it. He's not only been one of the very best players in the league now for a long time, but he’s continued to handle himself with class, on and off the field. I’m really just proud of what he’s done and the way he’s led this team."

Bledsoe said being remembered as a key element in turning around the fortune of the franchise is humbling and something he takes great pride in, but he also stressed that he was simply a part of it. And while he got nostalgic talking about old Foxboro Stadium (he doesn't miss the cold showers and rain in the training room; but he loved the intimate feel of the stadium), he's happy to see both Brady and the franchise grow after he moved on.

"When you're a part of something, you hope that you make it better and then, when you leave, you hope that whoever follows you picks it up and takes it to a better place," said Bledsoe. "That's been the case here under the stewardship of the Kraft family, with Tom and [coach] Bill [Belichick]. They've just taken this franchise to heights that were unimaginable in 1993."

As for a favorite moment from his time in New England, Bledsoe pointed to two in particular. First, there was the game against the Minnesota Vikings in November of 1994 in which he set the Patriots' previous record for passing yards with 426, culminating with a 14-yard pass to Kevin Turner in overtime for a 26-20 triumph. That win helped propel New England to the playoffs after winning its final seven games that year.

Second was the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 in which Bledsoe, who had lost his starting job after being injured earlier in the year, entered for an injured Brady and helped push the Patriots through to the Super Bowl, where they upset the Rams for the first of three titles.

"That was poignant moment for me, for a lot of reasons -- the magnitude of the game and having not been able to play for quite a while," said Bledsoe, who had tears of joy is his eyes after that game. "Being able to get back on the field for that game, that one stands out."