Drew McQueen Bledsoe (born February 14, 1972) is a former American football quarterback who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the New England Patriots. He served as New England’s starting quarterback from 1993 to 2001 and was considered the face of the Patriots franchise during his nine seasons with the team.The first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, Bledsoe helped improve the fortunes of the Patriots, who had fallen on hard times. Under his tenure as starting quarterback, the Patriots ended a seven-season postseason drought, qualified for the playoffs four times, and appeared in Super Bowl XXXI. He was also named to three Pro Bowls and became the youngest quarterback to play in the NFL’s all-star game at the time with his 1995 appearance.
Following a period of declining success and two consecutive seasons when the Patriots missed the playoffs, Bledsoe suffered a near-fatal injury early in the 2001 season and was replaced as starter by backup Tom Brady, a 6th round, 199th overall pick in the 2000 draft. After he was medically cleared to play, Bledsoe was unable to regain his starting position due to Brady’s success during the season, which led to the Patriots winning their first Super Bowl title in XXXVI and began a dynasty for the franchise that would appear in 9 additional Super Bowls and winning 6 of them since the 2001 season. Bledsoe subsequently retired after stints with the Buffalo Bills, where he made a fourth Pro Bowl appearance, and the Dallas Cowboys, where he was reunited with former Patriots head coach Bill Parcells.
While his tenure with the Patriots would ultimately be eclipsed by Brady, Bledsoe is recognized for helping rebuild the franchise and his role during their first Super Bowl-winning season when he led the team to victory in the 2001 AFC Championship after Brady was injured. For his accomplishments in New England, he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2011.