FOXBORO, Mass. — A quarterback addressed reporters in the Gillette Stadium media room Wednesday afternoon, but it wasn’t Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett.
It was Drew Bledsoe, the former New England Patriots signal-caller who’d made a special trip back to his stomping grounds.
The occasion? The 15th anniversary of the Super Bowl XXXVI team, which the Patriots won in an upset over the St. Louis Rams, kicking off a dynastic run that continues to this day. Bledsoe, of course, began that season as New England’s starting QB before suffering an injury in Week 2 and being replaced by Brady.
Here are a few highlights from Bledsoe’s chat:
On whether the Super Bowl win feels like 15 years ago:
“It seems like yesterday, honestly, that all this stuff was going on. It brings back a lot of great memories being back here, though. My wife and I are out here together. We kind of grew up out here. When I got here, I was single, and when we left, we were married and had three kids. We kind of grew up here, so it’s great to come back. It feels like a homecoming, for sure.”
On playing for the Patriots in the days before Gillette Stadium:
“I tell people all the time. There’s young guys that come to this organization now … and they have no idea. We used to put our pads on, get in our cars and drive five miles to an abandoned mental hospital — the old Wrentham State School — and get all dirty. And then we would get in our cars, all dirty, and drive back, take a cold shower and go to our meetings in our portables. It was a little different.
“I only got into an accident one time. I think I ran into (former Patriots kicker) Scott Sisson. I was looking down to change the radio, riding with (safety) Corwin Brown, and I ran into him. A little crash. We probably drove a little faster than we should have to and from practice. I think (backup quarterback Scott) Zolak had his red Corvette, and we’d jump in that thing and see how fast we could get going between practice and here.”
On which players will be joining him at the 15th anniversary celebration:
“It’s going to be really fun to get the team back together this week. I think we have over 40 guys coming. I talked to a handful of them. There are a handful of guys that I keep in touch with — (Tedy) Bruschi I hear from time to time, Willie McGinest, Troy Brown. I get together with Ty Law. I think Ted Johnson’s coming back to town. So there’s a lot of those guys that we’ll get to bump into and spend some time with that I haven’t seen for quite a while.”
On helping turn the Patriots franchise into the perennial contender it is today:
“It was really an honor for me and for my teammates to be a part of this organization as it went from being pretty bad to being pretty good. Now, since we left, it’s gone on to be probably the marquee organization in all of professional sports, at least in the United States, but we were part of that transition where it went from being kind of a doormat to being a fairly competitive organization, and those were neat teams to be a part of.”
On the importance of the 2001 team:
“I think that team, it truly was a team. And I think that part of what happened that year, without overstating it, when I got hurt, I think guys were like, ‘OK, our franchise guy went down. We’ve got this young guy coming in. We’ve all got to step up, and we’ve really got to make this a team thing.’ And then obviously as Tom (Brady) continued to play better and better, his part in that grew. But I do think that that team — and you saw it evidenced in how the team was introduced at the Super Bowl. Everybody came out together. That was the first time, I think, that had ever happened. And you’ve seen that continue to be the way that this organization has conducted the business of football. There’s nobody bigger than the team, and that’s one of the reasons they’ve been so successful for so long.”
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com