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QB Drew Bledsoe retires after 14 seasons

(April 11, 2007) -- Drew Bledsoe retired, ending a 14-year career in which he made two Super Bowls.

The top overall pick by New England in the 1993 draft out of Washington State, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback played for the Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. He was a starter for all three teams, but ended up as a backup with the Cowboys.

Bledsoe threw for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdown passes in his career.

"I feel so fortunate, so honored, to have played this game that I love for so long, with so many great players, and in front of so many wonderful fans," he said. "I fulfilled a childhood dream the first time I stepped on an NFL field, and the league did not let me down one time. I retire with a smile on my face, in good health, and ready to spend autumns at my kids' games instead of my own. I'm excited to start the next chapter of my life."

The 35-year-old Bledsoe lost his starting job to Tom Brady in New England in 2001 when Bledsoe got hurt in the second game of the season, and to Tony Romo in Dallas after Game 6 of last season.

He also asked for his release from the Bills after the 2004 season, when the team informed him it was going with J.P. Losman as the starter the next year. Bledsoe didn't want to be a backup there after he led the Bills to the brink of the playoffs.

He then signed with the Cowboys and was their starter for all of 2005 and part of '06.

In 1996, Bledsoe guided the Patriots to the AFC championship. They lost to Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

He remained the Patriots' starter until he was tackled by the Jets' Mo Lewis in the second game of the 2001 season and injured his chest. Brady took over, although Bledsoe got New England into the Super Bowl in place of the injured Brady by beating Pittsburgh in the AFC title game.

Brady then was the MVP of the Super Bowl victory against St. Louis.

The Bills acquired Bledsoe during the 2002 NFL Draft by dealing their first-round pick in 2003 to New England. Bledsoe had strong first season in Buffalo, setting 10 team passing records, including single-season marks with 4,359 yards and 375 completions.

His numbers, however, began to decline drastically. In his final 30 games with Buffalo, Bledsoe never finished with more than 296 yards passing, while registering 29 touchdowns and 27 interceptions during that stretch.

He finishes seventh all-time in yards passing, 13th in touchdown passes and fifth in completions (3,839).

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2007, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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