Drew Bledsoe spoke to the media via phone from his house after being released Thursday from Massachusetts General Hospital. Bledsoe had been there since Sunday night for what was described as a sheered blood vessel in his chest. The injury caused blood to fill his chest cavity and a tube was inserted to drain the fluid.
Q: How are you feeling?
DB: You know what, I am feeling all right today. I've still got a little pain when I take a deep breath here and there, but overall I am feeling pretty good.
Q: Will there be any residual effects other than the obvious healing?
DB: I don't think so. The only possible long-term effect would be if there were scaring in the chest cavity, which could limit my lung capacity at some point. So they are having me make real sure that once an hour I take some real deep breaths so that while it is healing that my lungs are expanded fully.
Q: Have they given you any realistic kind of timeline on when you can come back?
DB: Basically as far as we have gone is that we are going to revisit it in two weeks at which point then we will try and come up with more of a timeline at that point. For the next two weeks they really don't want me doing anything.
Q: What can you do over the next two weeks?
DB: Over the next two weeks what they have told me is that they want me to do very, very little. No heavy lifting. No strenuous activity. As a matter of fact they told me over the next two weeks they don't want me to pick up my kids. So really for two weeks they want me to just really lay low. They told me I am Ok to sit in meetings and go to practice and so on.
Q: Does this thing give you quite a scare?
DB: Well you know to be honest with you the only period that I was really in a ton of pain was after the game once I got into the training room and then that is when I really started to experience some severe pain. And then riding from there to the hospital I was in quite a bit of pain, but was I ever really scared by the situation? I really wasn't. I didn't ever feel like it was a life-threatening situation at all. I just…it made me a little nervous and then talking to the doctors afterwards where they talked about some of the options as far as had they had to open me up or whatever, then they are talking about things that could be season ending, career, that kind of thing. But that was all after the fact.
Q: Did you ever think you were invincible to something like this?
DB: First of all, I have been very fortunate. Anybody that plays this game and plays this position of quarterback for a long time without missing many games, you know you have to be fortunate in order to have that happen. I have also been proud of the fact that I have been able to stay on the field. Whether it's good fortune or because I've been strong or because I've been willing to play with some things here and there, it's something I've always been proud of to a certain extent. Is it realistic to think I could play my whole career without ever spending some time on the sidelines? That is not probably very realistic, but that's the way I was certainly intending to go about it.
Q: Can you take us through the moments following the hit?
DB: I'll take you through the whole thing. Here is basically what happened. I was trying to scramble and really kind of had the option of either going out of bounds or trying to come back in and get the first down. And as I tried to kind of lean back in to get the first down what's his name [Shaun Ellis] grabbed my legs and so that really left me exposed and Mo [Lewis] put a good hit on me. Obviously it was a clean hit. It wasn't a dirty hit by any stretch of the imagination, I have seen tape. But when he hit me, when I landed I don't believe I lost consciousness. If I did it was very, very quickly. And then when I got up, you know I realized that I had taken a pretty good shot and was dinged a little bit. Then as I got up and walked down the sidelines, then our trainers and medical staff came over and asked me some questions about what the score of the game was, where I was, what the situation was and what the date was, all the questions that you ask. I was able to answer all those questions correctly and so I was allowed to stay in the game. Then after the next series when I came off I went to Damon Huard and I was asking him some questions about our two-minute offense and about some specific plays. I think that he, from the questions I was asking about some of the plays that we've had in the game plan every week for two years, determined that I wasn't functioning at my full capacity and I think that when Damon made our staff aware that I wasn't thinking as clearly as maybe I normally would be that that was probably when the decision was made to take me out of the game. So I came out of the game and at that point really wasn't concerned at all about my body or what was going on there. My chest, you know it hurt a little bit but it certainly wasn't anything to cause me any alarm and then after the game, as I headed in after the game, I got in to the training room and when I got in to the training room and I tried to start getting undressed, that's when I realized that something was kind of going on with my rib cage or something because I was really having a hard time getting undressed. So that's when they wanted to take some X-rays and so on. I wasn't feeling very good so the decision was made to take me up to the hospital and then they got me up there.
Q: Did you have a collapsed lung?
DB: No, no. What actually happened was a blood vessel, not a vessel, I guess it would be an artery because it is blood going away from the heart is what they think it was, inside my rib cage was partially torn or perforated or what have you. So my chest cavity started to fill up with blood slowly and that was the reason that it didn't hurt terribly initially but got worse because that was slowly filling up with blood inside of my chest cavity, which then became painful as it filled up more and more. But no, my lung was never collapsed. I think obviously my lung capacity was diminished some because there was blood in that cavity, but there was no damage other than the bleeding inside of my cavity. There was no damage to my lung or to…I think the other rumor was the spleen or something like that. There was concern because of the pain that I was having that there may have been something like that, but as it turned out none of those were the case.
Q: Did Mo Lewis make any attempt to contact you?
DB: No. I haven't talked to Mo and like I said it is not something that…after the game, and during the end of the game, I didn't really think that it was anything serious. I know that, my wife for instance didn't really think that there was much cause for alarm other than maybe I had just gotten banged in the head a little bit until a while after the game when she was getting a ride up to the hospital. Like I said, it certainly wasn't a flagrant hit. It was a clean hit, but no he hasn't contacted me.
Q: Has something like this made you think about your playing mortality?
DB: It's football. You play the game and you are going to take some hits and that is part of it. Obviously it is an easier game for a quarterback when you can come out and throw and don't take any hits, but ultimately the game is football and you are going to take some hits. If you get to a point where you don't feel like you can take them anymore then you have got to get out of it, but that is not the case for me.
Q: Are you in pain now as you speak to us?
DB: I don't feel normal. My ribcage hurts a little bit when I take deep breaths. That doesn't feel great. I am really, certainly not going to test it for awhile. By the time I come back on the field I would expect that pain would diminish greatly.
Q: Any word on how long you think you are going to be out?
DB: The only thing that I know is that they have told me that I can't do anything for two weeks. They don't even want me to lift my kids for two weeks. Then we will revisit it at that point and determine what the timeframe is then. Beyond two weeks I don't want to speculate. It could be as short as three weeks, it could be longer than that.
Q: Where are you now?
DB: I'm at home now. I was released from the hospital late this morning.
Q: Will you talk to Tom Brady at all this week?
DB: Yeah I actually went over and watched the end of practice today. I will be in there with them and meet with those guys tomorrow. Hopefully they will allow me to be at the game Sunday so that I can be on the sidelines or up in the box.
Q: It is probably fair to say that if you can't lift your kids for two weeks that they are probably going to say that it isn't okay to lift 300 pound linemen of yourself for several weeks after that?
DB: The reason that they don't want me to do that is they want to make sure that everything heals up inside of there before I can go. I think that once it is healed up inside of there then they will let me do quite a bit more. What happens after those two weeks, I really don't want to speculate right now.
Q: How much on Sunday were you apart of what was going when they were going over the list of the possibilities of your injury with your family?
DB: When we were heading into the hospital they were aware that there was some internal bleeding and they were concerned about various different things, but really by the time my wife got up to the hospital they had a pretty firm grasp of what was going on. They had checked all of the internal organs first and foremost. They put me in a CAT Scan and checked all of those things out. Then real quickly they got a tube in me and started draining the blood out of my chest. So fairly quickly we had a handle on what was going on, but I was conscious the whole time. I was in pain, but I wasn't fearing for my life at any point.
Q: Were there two separate injuries one to your head and one to your chest, what was causing you to not be clear of the plays on the sidelines?
DB: That was just getting kind of dinged in the head a little bit as tends to happen from time to time in a football game, but they were separate things.
Q: There was no concussion per say?
DB: You play football sometimes you get dinged. Guys that play the contact positions in this sport are going to have a certain degree of fuzziness all of the time because you are running into people and getting your head knocked around all of the time. So to get a little bit dinged for a play or two, that happens.
Q: Did the doctors say that this injury was consistent with anything more radical because you just don't hear of that type of thing?
DB: It was a strange and unique injury from all of the doctors that I have talked to. From the standpoint of usually that kind of bleeding inside of the chest cavity goes along with a broken rib or it goes along with some other sort of internal injury. It was a little bit strange from that standpoint. The speculation as to how or why that was we talked through all of those different scenarios, but they didn't see it as a sign of a larger problem, no not at all. They just thought it was a unique injury.
Q: It almost sounds like a car accident injury?
DB: Well it's a violent game.
Q: I know in the past you cited the Bruce Smith hit that you took 1993 as number one is that now number two?
DB: I don't know. This was certainly in the top five. I think it probably had as much to do with the posture and the attitude that my body was in when I was hit as it did with the violence of Mo's hit. I just kind of left myself wide open for him and he put a good clean hit on me and I was pretty fully exposed when he did it.
Q: It appeared that you slowed up, but did you slow up because Ellis had a hand on you?
DB: I was trying to, in my infinite quickness, to get back inside of him to get another yard to pick up the first down. As I started to try and do that, that is when Ellis grabbed my legs and that's when Mo delivered the blow.
Q: So Ellis grabbing you is sort of what straightened you out?
DB: Yeah. It was kind of a two-fold thing.
Q: What do you know about the amount of blood that was pumped out of you and does that need to be replenished in some way?
DB: What they did was as they were taking the blood out of my chest cavity they were recycling it as well and putting that blood back into my circulatory system.
Q: What sort of advice have you given Tom Brady?
DB: I haven't really had a chance to talk to him too much. He stopped by the other night and we talked a little bit, but I will visit with him some tomorrow. But he knows what his job is. His job is to come in and play well and make good decisions and do what he can to win the game for us. I think the team has a lot of confidence in Tom. He had a real good came, he had a very good preseason and he is a guy that knows what he is doing. He hasn't gone out and proven it in a regular season game yet, but I think he looked pretty good from what I recall the other night when I came in. I think that the team has confidence they can take the field with Tom as quarterback and win the game.
Q: You have taken a lot of hits and there has been a lot of talk about how tough you are and strong you are, when this happens to you is one of your reactions to be utterly surprised that this type of damage can be done to you?
DB: Yeah it is a little bit surprising to be honest with you because I just…I just there is going to be a game on Sunday, I am going to play in the game and that is kind of the way it has been all along. I still don't know that that has set in completely. I went out and walked around at practice today and it just kind of seemed strange to see the team getting ready for a game without me out there. Yeah it does seem just a little bit strange that all of a sudden from just one hit I can all of sudden be on the sideline for a couple of weeks.
Q: You are a person that likes to play football, what is that like Sunday when you are not playing?
DB: I have only done it a few times and the times that it has happened to me before, most recently when I hurt my finger a few years back and had to stay out of a couple of games, it was really kind of a pretty emotional thing for me because to see our team taking the field and not to be with them and then to see our offense go out on the field and not be a part of that, that was a tough thing to swallow for me.
Q: How intrusive was the procedure to put the tube in your chest and did they have to repair the artery and as far as the sutures, do you have a couple to sutures to heal that?
DB: First of all to put the tube into my chest they went in between a couple of ribs. It is a decent size tube, I would say probably not a half inch in diameter, but certainly close to that in between the ribs, so that didn't feel great put it that way. As far as the artery it has healed itself apparently.
Q: What about the hole from the chest tube, how did they close that up?
DB: I was interested to see that yesterday when they took the tube out. They just put a bandage over it and I guess it will close up itself