Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ode to Drewzilla

Drew Bledsoe hung it up yesterday, retiring from the NFL after 14 steadfast and professional years in three different unis.

Bledsoe probably never did quite live up to his billing. A prototype physical specimen, he had some truly outstanding years in New England and Buffalo, but inconsistency, lack of talent around him, and perhaps a bit too much faith in his own skills prevented him from attaining the top of the mountain.

Drew came to Dallas two years ago as the next big hope. After several years spent looking for an adequate replacement for Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, the Cowboys saw Bledsoe as a viable, medium-term answer. It's clear now that the Pear Shaped Football Genius had plans for Tony Romo even then, but put his faith in one of his guys from the NE days. In his first year in Dallas, Bledsoe showed flashes of brilliance, and the hope was, with a retooled offensive line opening up what should have been a competent rushing attack and giving the immobile Bledsoe time to check off, the second year would be even better.

Alas, it was not to be. I still think the Cowboy offensive line underachieved, and the running tandem of Jones and Barber is over-rated, but it became clear early on that Bledsoe's skills and confidence had eroded to a point where it just wasn't going to work. He further hurt his cause by freezing out TO Owens (which, in retrospect, may not have been all that bad an idea) and, by the sixth game of the season, patience wore out. For the third time in his career, Bledsoe found himself passed over for the young guy.

Bledsoe won't be remembered much, and when his name does come up, it will be in the company of second tier guys like Bert Jones, Richard Todd, Billy Kilmer, Randall Cunningham, and others. Personally, I'd place him above any of those just based on Bledsoe's professionalism, community involvement, and general good-guyness.

Best of luck to you in your life after football, Drew. I'm sorry to see you go.

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