Drew Bledsoe will forever be known as a great NFL quarterback — and perhaps the sport’s living version of Wally Pipp.
His injuries or benchings over the years have famously led to the rise of both Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. In a heartfelt concession speech to Dak Prescott on Tuesday, Romo made a veiled reference to usurping Bledsoe back in 2006.
But in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday, Bledsoe seemed to hint that the hardest part of Romo’s journey is yet to come.
“It’s a really, really hard thing,” he said. “When you’ve been the guy for a lot of years, as Tony has been, and then your team is all of the sudden really ready to rock and roll, I think one thing that struck me that Tony says, he felt like it was the best team that he’s had a chance to be a part of. That’s really kinda where we were in New England in 2001, really felt like we had a shot with the offensive line we had. Team’s really ready to roll, and all of the sudden you’re on the sidelines and another guy’s slinging the rock around.
“The conflicting emotions are really, really hard to handle,” Bledsoe continued. “You’re simultaneously very very happy for your team and your teammates. It’s what you worked for all along, is the success and the chance to battle for a championship. But at the same time, your heart’s broken cause you’re looking out there and the team’s winning, and you gotta stand on the sidelines and don’t get to be a part of it. It’s a really really difficult thing. I thought Tony’s statement yesterday really kinda hit it on the head and he did a really nice job with it.
We agree with Bledsoe. Romo handled it in a classy way — but one that suited his era well. Even back in 2006, there wasn’t nearly the social burden on an NFL player as there is now. Romo had to find a way to be honest, biting and congratulatory without seeming like he wanted people to feel sorry for him. It can’t be easy to do.
Romo obviously has the chance to come in and be the savior, which maybe he’s still secretly hoping for in Dallas. Prescott has been phenomenal but isn’t perfect. He has been buoyed by a historically excellent running game that could one day be slowed down, forcing him to earn his stripes all over again. But if that day never comes, Romo has to be prepared for something far more gutting — the playoffs.
That’s where Bledsoe’s advice might come in handy the most.