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Bledsoe: a Quarterback With a Cause

By Ross AtkinStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / August 27, 1996



NORTH DARTMOUTH, MASS.

When the Monitor caught up with quarterback Drew Bledsoe not long ago, the New England Patriots had not yet opened their National Football League training camp.

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Nonetheless, Bledsoe was completing a busy day, partly spent taping a "Rock the Vote" voter-registration public-service spot for MTV, then helping his father, Mac, and other coaches in schooling young players at a summer football camp held on the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth campus.

Among the autograph-seekers who waited for Bledsoe to walk off the vast practice field were two adult superfans, one of whom had reviewed a stellar Bledsoe performance on videotape 20 times. Bledsoe has never seen the tape, a fact he quietly shares after his admirers have happily departed with his signature.

Before Drew drove home in his black Porsche, Mac Bledsoe told his son that the camp coaches were going to have dinner together. "I'll pass," Drew says, "I have a date with the couch," meaning he looked forward to some serious relaxing.

The life of an NFL quarterback is filled with demands on his time, both on and off the field. Seizing what free time exists is important to Bledsoe, who married his college girlfriend in Portland, Ore, last spring.

In another major offseason development, he announced in May that he was forming the Drew Bledsoe Foundation and putting his father in charge.

The foundation's main objective is to broadly share the parenting lessons Mac Bledsoe, a high school teacher-coach, has taught for many years.

"I've been looking for a charitable cause to undertake since I came into the league [in 1993]," Drew says, "but I couldn't find anything that really grabbed me. It was like all the good ones had been taken [by other players]. I could just continue to give money to them, but I wanted something I could put my heart and soul into."

This led him to consider what had really been important in his own life. "I feel the biggest reason I've been able to be successful is because of my parents," he concluded, "not because they taught me how to throw a football, but because they gave me the roots to be able to be satisfied with whatever I did."

Bledsoe may still take part in other charitable activities, such as the Boys and Girls Club, which he has enjoyed. His focus, however, will be on his own foundation, and even then his involvement will be limited.

Some of the program funding will be performance related, with contributions tied to New England touchdowns.

Patriot fans hope TDs occur with greater regularity than last year, when the team and Bledsoe fell short of expectations. As the league's former top draft choice, he was viewed as a franchise maker when he left Washington State University.

As a rookie, he guided what had been a 2-14 team in 1992 to a 5-11 record. This was followed by a wild-card playoff berth in 1994, when Bledsoe completed 45 of 70 passes in one game (both league records) and finished the season with a sensational 400 completions.