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Drew Bledsoe Conference Call Transcript

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Q:Do you think you're more appreciated now than you were when you were playing? What is the distinction of being an honorary captain?

DB: It's been a real honor this year to, first of all go through the Hall of Fame thing, and then to get the call the other day from Mr. Kraft to have me come back and be an honorary captain. It's been a real honor and a lot of fun.

Q:What is advice to a younger player who is experiencing their first AFC Championship Game?

DB: It's pretty heavy stuff. You have to get through the first five or 10 minutes of the game when the emotions are so high. Then you settle in and start playing football. Those first few plays of the game, you have a lot of adrenaline and excitement. It takes a little while to settle in and start playing football.

Q:We heard you rearranged your schedule to come out here for the honorary captain duties.

DB: One of my very best buddies from grade school is turning 40 [years old] tomorrow. I had to call and apologize, but I told him I would wave to him during the coin toss. Hopefully he'll forgive me.

Q:Can you reflect on your time with the Buffalo Bills?

DB: I had a great time in Buffalo. I really did. The fans in Buffalo are ultra-loyal. Having that rivalry for a bunch of years where they didn't like me and I didn't like them, going there and being welcomed like I was and playing there for a few years, I really enjoyed it. I have some great affection for that organization and particularly for the fans of Buffalo. I wish them all the best.

Q:What is your relationship with the Kraft family and what do they mean to this organization?

DB: It's hard to put into words what they have meant not only to the organization, but for the NFL. I've always valued greatly that relationship even when I left Boston and I was traded to Buffalo. I had a strong sense through all of it that it would be a great relationship. It certainly has been, more that I even anticipated. Robert Kraft and his family, I have to believe it's the best ownership group, probably in all of sports in terms of what they've done for the region and what they continue to do for the league and world at large. The fact they go the extra mile to welcome older, veteran players back into the fold is really unique and pretty special. There aren't too many organizations that do what they do in terms of welcoming players like myself back into the fold after we're done.

Q:What stands out to you about this game?

DB: It's a great match-up. It's kind of strength on strength. It's arguably the best offense in the league over a number of years against one of the best defenses ever to play in professional football. It's truly a matchup of strength on strength with our offense and their defense. That will be fun to watch. Obviously, there will be a lot of future Hall of Famers on the field this week. It should be really fun to watch.

Q:What the Patriots have to do differently on Sunday to beat the Ravens?

DB: They played so well last week and it really seems to me like they're peaking at the right time. Based on what they did last week, and obviously it's a different challenge, but they played a very good defense last week in the Broncos. They totally dismantled them. So I don't think they need to change a whole bunch from what they did last week if they can perform the same way and I think the outcome will be pretty good for them.

Q:What do you think it is like to throw to guys like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez?

DB: Those two guys are special. When you look at what Gronkowski has done, I've talked about it quite a bit with my football buddies. I don't know how you match up against the guy. It's kind of like having LeBron James playing tight end for you. He's too big for the fast guys and too fast for the small guys. Then he also has spectacular hands and can block a little bit. Gronkowski is doing some special things. Then having some speed from [Hernandez], it gives you a lot of versatility. It's a pretty special deal that the Patriots have there.

Q:Do you miss playing the game at this time of year?

DB: Absolutely. I certainly don't miss training camp and preseason football and all of those things that you have to do to get to this time of year. When you have the privilege of playing playoff football, it's a really exciting time. I haven't been back and watched many games. The game I came out for the Hall of Fame induction was the first regular season game that I've been to since I retired. I've found that my body had a very physical reaction to the National Anthem. That was always 'go' time. I always found myself standing there with my hair standing up and my body told me that it was time to go again. So I know it's going to be like that this week and it's going to be very fun to be part of it.

Q:Can you talk about the 1996 team and how special it was to have a home playoff game?

DB: It was a really special time for everyone involved and I know it was for our fans as well. The Patriots had been through a lot of years that hadn't been much fun and then to have not just one, but two home games in that run was really neat. I know for a fact that the loudest Foxboro Stadium ever was, was when we took the field against the Steelers with the fog. It seemed like the fog kind of acted like a dome and held the sound in.

Q:What are your memories of the snow game 10 years ago?

DB: That was pretty amazing. I actually watched a little of the replay yesterday and that was crazy cool. Tom [Brady] was playing well and then the kicks that Adam Vinatieri made have to go down as maybe the best kicks ever made in the NFL, I think. Kicking in that weather, in those conditions and driving the ball through the snow like he did was pretty amazing.

Q:Can you talk about the Patriots offense and quarterback Tom Brady?

DB: He doesn't have many weaknesses and he's so in command of everything that's happening on the field. He has smart guys around him who can react to whatever happens.

Q:Do you rank Bill Belichick among the top head coaches in NFL history?

DB: He certainly has to be in that conversation. I don't know who you put up there with him in terms of his record with the Patriots and what he did as a defensive coordinator with the Giants prior to that. Then coming back and being a defensive coordinator with the Patriots in '96. Obviously the run he's had as the head coach of the Patriots has been unmatched. If he's not the greatest, I like to meet whoever else is in that conversation.

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