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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Drew Bledsoe retires

QB Drew Bledsoe Retires After 14 Years
AP Football Writer

Drew Bledsoe retired Wednesday, ending a 14-year career in which he made two Super Bowls.

The top overall pick by New England in the 1993 draft out of Washington State, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback played for the Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. He was a starter for all three teams, but ended up as a backup with the Cowboys.

Bledsoe threw for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdown passes in his career.

"I feel so fortunate, so honored, to have played this game that I love for so long, with so many great players, and in front of so many wonderful fans," he said. "I fulfilled a childhood dream the first time I stepped on an NFL field, and the league did not let me down one time. I retire with a smile on my face, in good health, and ready to spend autumns at my kids' games instead of my own. I'm excited to start the next chapter of my life."

The 35-year-old Bledsoe lost his starting job to Tom Brady in New England in 2001 when Bledsoe got hurt in the second game of the season, and to Tony Romo in Dallas after Game 6 of last season.

He also asked for his release from the Bills after the 2004 season, when the team informed him it was going with J.P. Losman as the starter the next year. Bledsoe didn't want to be a backup there after he led the Bills to the brink of the playoffs.

He then signed with the Cowboys and was their starter for all of 2005 and part of '06.

In 1996, Bledsoe guided the Patriots to the AFC championship. They lost to Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

He remained the Patriots' starter until he was tackled by the Jets' Mo Lewis in the second game of the 2001 season and injured his chest. Brady took over, although Bledsoe got New England into the Super Bowl in place of the injured Brady by beating Pittsburgh in the AFC title game.

Brady then was the MVP of the Super Bowl win over St. Louis.

The Bills acquired Bledsoe during the 2002 NFL draft by dealing their first-round pick in 2003 to New England. Bledsoe had strong first season in Buffalo, setting 10 team passing records, including single-season marks with 4,359 yards and 375 completions.

His numbers, however, began to decline drastically. In his final 30 games with Buffalo, Bledsoe never finished with more than 296 yards passing, while throwing 29 touchdowns and 27 interceptions during that stretch.

He finishes seventh all-time in yards passing, 13th in touchdown passes and fifth in completions (3,839).


AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this story.

Oakland Raiders Wanted Falcons QB Matt Schaub Now Uncertain About #1 Pick - ProFootballWeekly.com

From ProFootballWeekly.com

Raiders upset they couldn’t land Schaub, still unsure how to spend No. 1 pick


Of all the rumors coming out of Oakland in the weeks leading up to the draft, two things are certain: The Raiders remain undecided as to which direction they will go with the first overall pick, and they were very disappointed in their inability to acquire Falcons QB Matt Schaub, who was traded to the Texans in March.

Schaub had worked with new Raiders offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp in Atlanta, and they had high hopes for building around him right away. One factor that could play a major role in which direction they go with the first pick is the potential trade of WR Randy Moss, which could net them a veteran quarterback or at least put them on the lookout for one, as well as have them suddenly leaning toward Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson.

Without a Moss trade, however, the decision would come down between Russell, who has the big arm that owner Al Davis covets, and Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, who is viewed as more NFL-ready than Russell and has a better work ethic. Quinn’s dedication and experience in a pro-style system should bode well in the eyes of new head coach Lane Kiffin, who tutored Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC, but according to insiders, Russell had a slight edge as of this writing.

Drew Bledsoe Retires From Pro Football

Bledsoe retires, ends 14-year career
By Michael Smith

Rather than spend a 15th season standing on a sideline as a backup, quarterback Drew Bledsoe has decided to walk away from pro football.

Bledsoe, 35, retires fifth in NFL history in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251).

The No. 1 overall selection in 1993 by the New England Patriots out of Washington State, Bledsoe spent his first nine seasons with the Patriots, the next three with the Buffalo Bills, and his last two with the Dallas Cowboys.

"I feel so fortunate, so honored, to have played this game that I love for so long, with so many great players, and in front of so many wonderful fans," Bledsoe said in a statement released through his representatives at Athletes First. "I fulfilled a childhood dream the first time I stepped on an NFL field, and the league did not let me down one time. I retire with a smile on my face, in good health, and ready to spend autumns at my kids' games instead of my own. I'm excited to start the next chapter of my life."

A four-time Pro Bowler, Bledsoe backed up Tony Romo for the Cowboys' final 11½ games last season and had no interest in continuing his career in that role. Cincinnati and Seattle are said to have had interest in Bledsoe as a backup to Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck, respectively.

"This is something I've been thinking about for quite a while," Bledsoe said last night from his home in Bend, Oregon. "I felt like this was the way I was going to go late in the season. I wanted to spend some time with it and not make a rash decision."

Being benched at halftime of Dallas' sixth game -- the third time Bledsoe lost his starting job though the first time he'd been outright replaced during the season -- did not rob Bledsoe of his confidence. He says he isn't leaving the game because he feels he's finished. As a matter of fact he says he feels as good as he did a decade ago.

Elias Says
Drew Bledsoe averaged 34.6 passes per game in his career, the highest average for any player in NFL history. Next-highest (minimum: 100 games): Dan Marino (34.5), Brett Favre (34.1).
• Read more Elias Says.

"The reason for the decision is not because I don't want to play anymore," he said. "The reason is there's a lot of other stuff I'm excited about doing. The positives of retiring outweighed the positives of returning and my desire to still play."

Bledsoe, who led New England to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI and earned his lone championship ring with the Patriots in 2001, listed among his proudest accomplishments the respectable manner in which he carried himself on and off the field and the fact that he never literally had to be carried off the playing field.

"Looking back, I wish some things had gone differently," Bledsoe said, "but throughout 14 years in a very high-profile position in some high-profile places that I represented myself and my family well in terms of how I conducted myself on the field and off."

Though he took plenty of hits and sacks, Bledsoe, a prototypical pocket passer, almost always got up. He started all 16 games nine times.

"Nobody ever had to come and get me off the field," he said. "Even in New England [in '01 after Mo Lewis of the Jets leveled him with a hit that sheered a blood vessel] I went back out there and they had to tell me to stay out. I never once stayed down."

Bledsoe was unable to regain his starting job from Tom Brady -- he did, however, get a relief win in the AFC title game -- and the following offseason the Patriots dealt him to Buffalo. Three years later his run with the Bills ended when the team decided to hand the starting job over to first-round pick J.P. Losman.

His signing with the Cowboys prior to 2005 reunited him with Bill Parcells, the coach who drafted him in New England. With Dallas headed toward a disappointing 3-3 start, Parcells benched Bledsoe in favor of Tony Romo at halftime of a nationally-televised game against the Giants. The Cowboys released Bledsoe in March.

Bledsoe, however, says he harbors no ill will toward Parcells, Belichick, the Bills, anyone.

"I'm not leaving the game with any hard feelings," he said. "I had a great career and I enjoyed all of it, with the exception of losing. I enjoyed the time I had with all the teams I played for. I played with a ton of great players and a ton of great people.

"[Last season] was hard. Very hard. Nobody said life was fair but that was a tough pill to swallow. I'm happy for Tony who's a good guy and a good player. It was sad for him the way the season ended. It's just that I felt like that team had a chance to do some things and I wanted to be on the field with those guys. It didn't work out. But there's no bitterness toward anyone over anything that happened."

A Bledsoe comeback later in '07 or in '08? Not happening, he says. Money certainly is not a source of motivation -- from 1993 through 2003 Bledsoe received more than $62 million in compensation, most in the league. Bledsoe is leaving the game not because the right opportunity isn't available but to take the opportunity to spend more time with his wife, Maura, and their four children while pursuing business endeavors and continuing his charitable work through his foundation, Parenting with Dignity.

"That's why I waited this long to make an announcement," he said. "I wanted to be very sure. I needed to get some emotional separation from last season to make sure I wasn't making a decision I would regret. I wanted to make sure it was the right thing and it is. I would say this is a definite."

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