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Bye Bye Drew...we will never forget you!!

By Dean Nicosia 

4/26/02

I never thought I would see this Day, this early....

Drew is traded to the Buffalo Bills... its been easy to think about, because I haven't really thought about it, but now that I think about it, it doesn't have a nice ring to me. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these scared Patriots fans who thinks this is the end of the world, and for that matter, I believe it needed to be done! And if he had to go, selfishly I am glad it's to my town. And as far as Brady goes, he's the one who has made this a lot easier for me to swallow. Not only do I have faith in the current Patriot leadership, but I think I would have done the same myself. Brady is the real deal, and he's a great person to put your hopes in. He will carry on the torch with class and style. I think his potential is that of a Montana (my favorite non-Patriot QB ever), but then that's just me...

But having said that, it doesn't mean that this day isn't tough to take. How weird it seems, as I look back over the last nine years, that our golden boy is packing his bags for the Bills...the Bills? Wow!

Drew Bledsoe may have saved the team, I think he did, but I know for a fact he brought excitement back to New England Patriots football, and he is most likely the reason for this club surviving the nine years that we have been around.

It was 1993 and the Patriots drafted a big strong armed QB out of Washington named Drew Bledsoe. After watching the team go through 4 QBs in 1992, and winning only 2 games (both with Zolak...Z-O-L-A-K...Zolak) I was excited to ring in the 1993 football season. I was delivering Pizza's for Pontillos, and my co-workers were all talking about this guy, "you might actually have a real team soon Dean", they said to me, and I was happy to hear that.

Let me just clarify something, cause it's something I'm proud of as a Patriots Fan. I watched every game that I could in 1992, when they won only 2 games, and the last game of the season was on local TV (being a geek, I have it on tape, with halftime comments from OJ) and I was psyched up to watch it. I got out a tape and popped it in, hit record,  grabbed my Pat's gear, and cheered them on until the last snap. Jeff Carlson was brought in to play QB that day, his only week as a Patriot. He played a good game, and it came down to the wire, with the Patriots losing in the end. I was just glad to see my team on TV, and enjoy a game. The same can be said for 1990 (Rod Rust at coach), when they won only 1 (against Indy, whom we as Pat's fans will miss having in our division) and every year before that since I can remember.  So I wasn't jumping on any bandwagon when Drew was brought in, I was just excited to get the season going. My team was getting a good QB!

During the pre-season I would run down to grab a newspaper (pre-internet boom) the day after a Patriots game and check the stats for Drew. Reading the articles about his potential made me think Marino all day. Finally it was OUR turn to enjoy some success. 

As week one approached I became increasingly optimistic about our chances with our new QB. After watching Marino beat us so many times, it was our turn to have a solid QB leading us into the trenches. There were flashes of greatness with Tony Eason, Hugh Millen, and Scott Zolak, but since the healthy days of Steve Grogan, we hadn't had a QB we could believe in for very long. (I love the fact that Grogan is on the Patriots Video News!!) Here with Bledsoe, we stood on the doorstep of greatness.

Week one was against Buffalo, so it was on local TV. The Patriots lost that game, and Bledsoe had a tough time, but I remember one pass showed me everything. It looked like a Pedro Martinez fastball, with no apparent effort Drew flung the ball down the middle of the field on a rope for a 12 yard gain. I don't know how Crittenden caught that one, but he hung on for the first down. I had that on tape, and replayed that play over and over, trying to figure out how he threw  the darn thing so hard. I was used to watching old used up QB's like Marc Wilson lob up softballs for the Patriots. Here he was a Patriot, and he was good!! Now we could actually compete with the Bills, and maybe beat them in the near future. (Remember that the 1993 season was year four of the infamous Buffalo Super Bowl run. They had knocked us around for a couple of seasons.) I was proudly talking up my Patriots to all of my Bills fan friends, "we have a good QB now, his name is Drew Bledsoe". Those same friends are now rubbing it in, "We have Drew now". 

Over the past nine years, which have for me been spent down at "What's on Second" with the Patriots fan club of Rochester, NY, I have rooted and watched and cheered for the QB named Drew. One of my favorite games came in 1994 when Drew lead the team back against Minny from a 20pt half time deficit. At the end of the year when I got my Patriots highlight video, the sideline cameras caught a Defensive player cheering on Drew saying "you're the natural Drew, come on Drew, you're the natural"...so out of superstition I would repeat the same line during those close games, when Drew had the ball in his hands. "You're the Natural Drew!"

Now he is a Bill, and while I will follow his career, and now have the opportunity to go to the local training camp in Rochester and meet him, it still is gonna be weird. He was our boy, he was our QB, and he was going to retire someday with the Patriots, and have a few rings, and we would retire his number. He would go down in Patriots folk lore as the greatest of the Patriots, a legend. (even bigger than Steve Grogan, my greatest Patriots hero as a kid.) And I would be able to tell young Patriots fans that I was there to see the whole thing, and this would be when I was 40, and Drew would be retired at 38. I was 2 years older than him when he came in, he was the first Pat's QB that was younger than me, and I would refer to him as the "kid" that saved the Pats, and brought us to the promise land...."The Natural".

Unfortunately, this was not to be. Things never turn out the way you dream them up, and he is now a Bill. And we are moving on without him, and our new "Natural" is a "Kid" named Tom Brady. And as excited as I am to have Tom, I'm gonna miss Drew, and I am more cautious about putting my hopes in a kid that may also leave too early some day.

Drew gave us hope, saved the team, and helped us to the promise land. He has a ring with the Patriots that he took part in earning, and nobody can change that. This is the happy ending to the story. If things aren't going to work out the way you plan, you are lucky when they come close. And they sure came close. Drew will always be remembered as a Patriot first, and he will always have a ring that he won with us, and he will be credited (in my mind) with saving the Patriots. 

Now he has the opportunity to help save the Bills from leaving my area (it would not be good for us if the Bills left Western NY, like the Bills or not) and we as local Pats fans have the opportunity to follow his career closely, and see him play twice a year, and even meet the guy. That's not a terrible ending to the story, although it will be weird rooting against him (even Booing him when necessary!)

Here is the Part where I remind you of my deep ties to the Patriots. I will always be a Pats fan, no matter who plays or doesn't play for them. Like my Dad before me, and my Big Bro, and most of the people where I was born, I am a Pat's fan, end of story. 

So I say bye Drew, I will miss you, and I will never forget what you did for my one time Pathetic Team! I don't get laughed at anymore when I wear my Pat's stuff like I did in the late eighties and early nineties, thanks to you. And you provided me with a bunch of friends that are a part of a Club that I run that would have never been. We will be fine without you, but we will never forget. I could write for hours about the good memories of great games, but I won't. I'll just say bye Drew. Now I have to root against you, and I will boo you....that 's how it goes.

But thanks for the team we have now, and thanks for the memories...

God Bless America!!

...Thatís just my slanted view! God Bless, and Go Patriots!!!