A condensed version of this interview with Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe appears in the Nov. 27 edition of ESPN the Magazine.
|Steroid testing for QBs? C'mon, says Drew Bledsoe. "There really should be a sight pretest," he says. "I mean, look at us -- we're a bunch of skinny, weak guys."|
Dan Patrick: Do you find when you're on a losing streak that nobody wants to call you?
Drew Bledsoe: I talk to the family and friends ... they all want to call and say, "Hey, you know, you're playing good, keep your head up" -- and all that stuff. But ... people still call. But it gets frustrating to have to talk to everybody. So I don't like to talk to a bunch of people. I'll put it that way. But people call and, you know, try to give you moral support.
DP: What's the most lasting lesson about football you learned from [former Patriots coach Bill] Parcells?
DB: Let's see. Probably the amount of work and the amount of both physical and emotional investment it takes to get to the top. ... Playing for him, the practices and the training camp and all that stuff is so long and so hard ... it's hard to have perspective on it when you're in the middle of it. But when you come out of a long and brutal process like that and you get to the games, the games are actually easy. Because you don't have a guy, you know, yelling things at you and all that stuff. So that's probably the biggest lesson -- that when you put enough of an emotional and physical investment into something, then you can accomplish things.
DP: Best teammate you ever had.
DB: Shoot. I don't know ... probably Bruce Armstrong, my left tackle.
DP: Well, of course you love your left tackle.
DB: He's taken great care of me over the years. And he's the guy, you know, when things are going bad -- he's a very intelligent guy who can generally put some sort of perspective on things for me.
DP: Boston fans are notoriously rabid. Is that good or bad?
DB: I think it's good. You know, either way ... when you lose, they can get down on you pretty quick. But, you know, the fans out here have a great emotional attachment to their sports teams. You know, they really get involved in it. It really affects their mood. And they show up. They may show up to boo you, if you're playing bad. But they're always there.
DP: Who taught you the most about football?
DB: Probably my dad. You know, not directly, where he would sit me down and tell me this is how it works and this is what you do. But just simply because he was a football coach, so I was always out at practice. I was always around the game. And so ... I kind of picked up the game at an early age. The way that other kids would learn what a fork or a spoon is. You know, I just kind of picked it up because I was around it, and that's due to my dad.
DP: Favorite Red Sox of all time.
DB: My favorite Red Sox of all time? Well, you know, I've only been out here for a little while...
DP: Well, I was going to ask for your favorite Mariner, but I didn't know if you had one.
DB: Well, no. Don't go there. But, you know, I love watching Pedro Martinez throw. I mean, Pedro's just so dominant. And I'm really glad that I'm back here in this area while he is pitching for the Red Sox. Because watching him work is really amazing. And so he's probably my favorite. And the people out here might be mad at me, because I'm not getting back into the history of things.
DP: How far do you think Pedro could throw a football?
DB: Man, I don't know. I really don't know. I'll bet he could throw it quite a ways. You know, it's a different deal -- throwing a football as opposed to throwing a baseball. But the guy has such a strong arm. He could probably throw it out of the stadium.
DP: Well, how hard could you throw a baseball, then?
DB: You know what? That's something I've wanted to try. And I never have, at least since I've been in college or whatever -- I never have had a clock put on me, throwing a baseball. I would like to try that, at some point.
DP: What quarterback would you want to throw a pass to you?
DB: Oh, somebody who's got some nice, soft touch on the ball. I don't want to catch something from Brett Favre, because he'd blow me up and I wouldn't be able to catch it. You know, he throws the thing too dang hard. ... I could probably catch a ball from Montana. I think he threw a nice, soft, accurate ball with a tight spiral. So I think I could pull that one in.
DP: So you have no sympathy for these guys who have to catch your bullets?
DB: No, not at all. Not at all. Man, that's their job. I'm going to throw it as hard as I can, if I need to.
DP: Have they ever complained to you?
DB: You know what? Guys, especially early in my career, would come to me on game day. Because you get a little adrenaline going on game day. And all of a sudden, that ball comes out a whole bunch faster than it was in practice. So they would say some things on game day. But talk to guys who play with a quarterback who throws the ball hard -- once you get used to catching a ball that's coming with some velocity, you really learn to prefer that. Because the ball gets on you quicker, and I think it really becomes easier to catch. As long as it's got some sort of spiral on it. A hard-thrown ball actually becomes easier to catch, because it really sticks in your hands.
DP: Who's No. 1 on your speed dial?
DB: Home first. You know, I've got to call the wife and kids. And then my parents are up there. And then, after that, there are a few friends back home that I have.
DP: Who would surprise me on your speed dial?
DB: Well, you know, I can look. I've got it right here. Let's see. You know what? I've got Mark Brunell right here, just popped right up. I called Mark the other day. He's going through some tough times down there, which I certainly have some sympathy and some experience with. And so I called him the other day, just to tell him to keep his head up a little bit.
DP: Do you use the Internet?
DB: I do.
DP: And what do you use it for?
DB: To keep in touch with people. ... I didn't check my e-mail for a couple weeks, and I had, like, 200 e-mails waiting for me. So I keep in touch with people that way. People I don't talk to regularly -- we'll send things back and forth.
DP: What magazines do you read? What magazine do you read that might surprise me?
DB: I'm hesitant to even admit it, but my wife gets a subscription to People magazine. And I hate all the gossip stuff, you know, but I can't put it down. All the little things about these famous people and stuff. I always end up reading that stuff. And it bugs me, because I've been the subject of some of that stuff. ... It's like a car wreck, I can't turn away.
DP: You keep waiting to see if you're going to be in there.
DB: Well, you know, the "50 Most Beautiful People" thing. They've overlooked me now for, like, 10 straight years ... and it's just killing me, but I know I'm going to be in there one of these days.
DP: What concert would I find you at? If you could go to any concerts.
DB: Any time U2 is on tour, I'm going to go see that. There's no doubt about that. The one concert that I haven't seen, that just kills me, is I've never seen Pearl Jam in concert -- which it just seems crazy that I haven't. I'm a huge fan of theirs, but I've never seen Pearl Jam in concert. So next time they're on tour, if you go, you'll probably find me there.
DP: Can football be portrayed in a movie and made realistic?
DB: I haven't seen one yet. I haven't seen one yet that really captured it all. You know, there are some sports movies that I've seen that I've enjoyed. But none that I've seen have really been able to capture all that football's about.
DP: Last time you were scared.
DB: We were out by the pool. ... I've got a 2½-year-old and a 1-year-old. And my 1-year-old is cruising around the pool when he went right off the edge, right into the pool. So I was in there pretty quick, pulling him off the bottom. But, yeah, there's no doubt I was scared.
DP: Did your wife yell at you?
DB: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, she was petrified too. She was right there with me, watching.
DP: Well, I figured it would be your fault. It's usually our fault.
DB: Oh, of course. It's always our fault.
DP: A favorite charitable activity, because I know this is big to you.
DB: I have my own foundation. We call it the Parenting with Dignity Foundation. And what we've really done is put together a comprehensive program, teaching parenting skills to parents of young children. And the reason that we've done that is, you know, I really feel strongly that we can solve a lot of the problems that are facing American kids, before they actually occur. You know, the drugs, the violence, the gangs. All that kind of stuff can be addressed at home. And if it's addressed at home, then you don't have to deal with them on the other end. ... We've reached over a million people so far. And so it's something we're really proud of.
DP: Death match you'd like to see.
DB: Oh, let's see. Man, that's a good one. How about Bush and Gore? Bbut that's pretty boring.
DP: Yeah ... I want something controversial -- you know, like Eminem against Kid Rock or something.
DB: Yeah, that'd be good. How about Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera? That would be a pretty good one, wouldn't it?
DP: Who would you be pulling for?
DB: Oh, I don't know. They're kind of one and the same, aren't they? I don't really know the difference, to be honest with you. But there's a big rivalry there, I guess.
DP: Free association. You ready? Green monster.
DB: Home run.
DP: Ryan Leaf.
DB: Don't go there.
DP: End-zone celebration.
DP: Your legs.
DP: Tiger Woods.
DB: The best.
DP: With you being a golfer, you can probably understand his greatness, a little more than most people do.
DB: Oh, for sure, yeah. My game is very similar to his, and that's why I respect him so much.
DP: In fact, he's called the Drew Bledsoe of the PGA Tour.
DB: I think he is. I've heard that a couple of times. That's a great compliment to him.
DP: Best moment you've ever had in the huddle.
DB: Shoot. You know, there have been a bunch of them. The first thing that comes to mind is at the end of a game, when you're winning the game ... where you're just kind of killing some clock. Those are always great moments. I do remember very vividly, when I broke my finger against Miami, coming into the huddle. And I didn't, at that point, know if I could even throw a ball with any kind of accuracy. I'd thrown one pass, and the ball just took off on me. And so I'm in the huddle, and I'm kind of trying to decide what to do. Whether I'm going to take a time out, whether I'm going to go to the sidelines -- you know, let my backup come in and play. And I just remember looking around at some of these guys, and they were all looking at me. You know, just kind of wide-eyed, like, you know, hey -- and then Shawn Jefferson said, "Hey, he's got to go out, he's got to go out." And Armstrong said, "No, he can't go out. He's got to play." And so I ended up going to the sidelines and threw a couple balls and came back in. We ended up winning the game, so it was a lot of fun. But I remember that one pretty vividly, because they're all looking at me, trying to figure out what's wrong with me, first of all. And I don't know if I can play.
DP: The first two games this season, you were sacked 12 times. Did you ever go back to the huddle once, and just say, guys, stop?
DB: Every once in a while, if things are going bad for a few plays in a row, I will say something. But for the most part...
DP: Give me an idea of what you're going to say. Let's say I'm the lineman and I just gave up two sacks.
DB: Well ... "Alright, guys, you've got to set them down in the middle. I need just a little bit here, and we can score some points." You know, something like that. Usually I'm pretty matter-of-fact about it. Now, if things get really bad, I may say some things that I can't really repeat on the radio. But for the most part I'm pretty matter-of-fact about it. And we'll usually address things on the sidelines, rather than in the huddle, when we're really having some troubles. Where I can talk with our offensive line coach and find out exactly what's going on. Because a lot of times, I won't know exactly whose responsibility it was, for a guy that came free. You know, because there are twists, and games that the defensive linemen run and so on. So I never know exactly what happened. So I kind of stay away from it until I get to the sidelines.
DP: What's in your pockets right now?
DB: Let's see. You know what? I have actually got nothing in my pockets -- which really hurts me, because I was going to stop and pick up some dinner on the way home so my wife didn't have to cook. But now I'm going to have to go home. It's a really frustrating thing, when you're a guy who's got a lot of money but you don't have any access to any of it for a period of time. I left my wallet and my credit cards, everything at home. So I've got all this money sitting in the bank, but I have access to none of it.
DP: Does Michael Bishop actually have a stronger arm than you?
DB: It hurts me to say it, but, yeah, he does. I don't even think it's close.
DP: So when they pull you out and bring in Michael, you don't pout?
DB: No. Number one is he can throw it out of the stadium. But also, I've never completed a "Hail Mary" pass in my whole career -- and I'm going back to, like, seventh grade. So more power to him. He can have that job.
DP: Best Halloween costume you've ever worn.
DB: You know, my dad made me one when I was in the second grade. It was this cool robot costume. There's no doubt about the worst one. My mom dressed me up like a clown for the first four years of my life. I had the big shoes, the nose, this goofy-looking hat and all this makeup. See, my mom raised two boys, so she'd put makeup on us whenever she could.
DP: What's the dumbest team rule in football?
DB: Steroid testing for quarterbacks. There really should be a kind of a sight pretest. I mean, look at us -- we're a bunch of skinny, weak guys. We just kind of stand back and chuck the ball around.
DP: Favorite song as a kid.
DB: Anything by the Eagles takes me right back to the house I grew up in. I guess calling it a house would be a stretch. For the first three years of my life, we lived in a trailer house.
DP: Trailer house? It's a trailer park. I think you're upgrading it.
DB: No. We couldn't afford to be in the park. We just had the trailer out in the middle of nowhere.
DP: Nobody else was out there with you?
DB: No, it was just us. It was the trailer home that my parents bought when they were in the military. I think it cost them, like, $1,500. My dad was stationed in Virginia when they bought the home. And it actually cost the military more to ship their house across the country than my parents paid for it. It cost them like $3,000 to ship it.
DP: So are you trailer trash?
DB: Oh, most definitely. My brother calls me wealthy trailer trash.
DP: What's the longest name for a play in your playbook?
DB: Here's one we got a couple of weeks ago: One flood over, alert hat, check with me, ride 136-D pivot, or 73-D go tosser.
DP: What's that, give it to the fullback?
DB: Yeah, exactly.
DP: Hardest hit you ever received?
DB: My rookie year I came in halfway through a game against Buffalo with a sprained knee. So I'm scrambling up the middle and Phil Hansen grabbed me around the legs. Then I see this flash of red and white. Marvcus Patton hit me in the face so hard he bent the face mask on my helmet. Drove my helmet into my forehead, and cut me wide open. Man, it rocked my world.
DP: Welcome to the NFL.
DB: Yeah. But I got back up, and went back to the huddle. Fortunately it was the right huddle.