(Drew Bledsoe photos courtesy of the New England Patriots)
Talk of Fame Network
Drew Bledsoe was an NFL quarterback so accomplished that he led the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, was a four-time Pro Bowl choice and was chosen to the Patriots Hall of Fame. But nothing, he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, compares to what he does now.
And what he does is coach high-school football.
As an assistant coach with Summit High School in Bend, Ore., Bledsoe not only was able to coach two of his sons last year; he was also able to be part of a state championship run – a season Bledsoe unabashedly called “my favorite year in football.”
So how did he get involved? Glad you asked.
“Initially,” he said on the Talk of Fame Network’s first in a four-part high-school football series, “I really wanted to just be Dad and sit in the stands. And part of that was due to the fact that these kids are already carrying a notorious name or, depending on your perspective, a famous name. And I didn’t want to add any pressure to that.
“But what I discovered fairly quickly is that I had a wealth of knowledge, (and) sitting on it and not sharing the knowledge that I had with these kids was not the right way to do it. And that only partly has to do with football.
“I learned a lot of lessons both through my successes and probably more so from my failures through life and through football. Having the platform to be around a group of high-school boys on a daily basis and share lessons, not just about football but about life, was something that became an obvious choice for me.
“And now that I’ve done it for a little while I just absolutely love it. This last year our team won a state title, and I got to coach two of my sons and my third son was on the sidelines for the playoffs. (I) knew all these guys from the time they were in second grade, and watching those guys go on to the success that they had — even with all that I was able to do as a player — it was definitely my favorite year in football. I just loved every bit of it.”
Of course, Bledsoe also quarterbacked the New England Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost to Green Bay. That was memorable, too, but Bledsoe explained why this run was so meaningful.
“It’s different,” he said of the 1996 season, “but I’ve got to admit: There were times when I was more nervous coaching high-school football than I was playing in those big games. As a coach, you discover pretty quickly that it’s really different; that a lot of times you don’t have the same control that you would have on the field in terms of making the play. But you feel more responsible if it doesn’t work.
“I just really feel that any time we had a play that was unsuccessful … that was my fault; that I either didn’t teach it well enough or didn’t call it at the right time or what have you. So the sense of responsibility that I felt as a coach is actually bigger than what I felt as a player.”
Nevertheless, Bledsoe entertains no thoughts of coaching at another level.
“I’m right where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be an assistant coach at the high-school level. Being an assistant coach means I don’t have to pass out pads, I don’t have to talk to angry parents about their kids playing time. I also have a very strict stipulation in my contract that I don’t ride yellow school buses. I love every thing about coaching at the high-school level.”