FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots Hall of Famer Drew Bledsoe didn't really have that Tom Brady–Peyton Manning type of rivalry with another quarterback during the prime of his career.
Part of that was the result of playing during a transitional era. His tenure was somewhat parallel to Brett Favre's, but Bledsoe got his start while the greats from the 1980s draft classes were winding down, and he wrapped up his career as Brady and Manning were still ascending.
Still, Bledsoe had some tremendous duals with Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, whom Bledsoe considered his greatest rival.
"I suppose so," Bledsoe told NESN.com. "We certainly had some great games, battling it out. It was pretty crazy for me coming in because here's a guy that was my football hero growing up. He was drafted when I was 11, I think, and then all of a sudden I'm on the field battling it out with him. When you played against Danny, you always knew you had to score a bunch of points because he was going to score a bunch of points. So that did change it. Even though I was never on the field with him, you just knew when you were playing against that guy, he was going to score his points, so you had to put some points on the board."
Bledsoe reflected on the two eras of quarterbacks that his career overlapped with.
"I think there was a transition that happened," Bledsoe said. "When I came in, it was Marino, and [John] Elway, and [Jim] Kelly, and [Joe] Montana, and Steve Young, [Troy] Aikman. Those guys were all of the established guys in the league, and there was a sense with those guys that they were still really running the show.
"Now, with the exception of just a handful of guys, the quarterback is getting a lot of instruction from the sidelines, you're getting so many personnel groups, so many specialized plays and so on that it's really changed and become a programmed game rather than a quarterback being the true field general out there. So there certainly was a transition.
"I feel really fortunate, though, that now, I was peers with Marino and Elway and Kelly, and then I was peers with Peyton and watched Tommy come up. So I was able to have relationships and still have relationships with all of the guys from the different eras."