Drew Bledsoe was back in Foxborough for the first week of the NFL regular season, when he and other Patriots alumni helped the team celebrate its Super Bowl LIII victory in a pregame ceremony. Before he walked out onto the Gillette Stadium field holding one of the team's six Lombardi trophies, Drew stopped by "Patriots Off Topic" to talk about being back, his wine business and some former teammates.
The interview is worth a listen, but here are some takeaways from the conversation.
He's played with some funny guys.
After spending time with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, Drew said the funny and wacky guys are now tight ends. When he was playing, he said, it was the defensive line that would have you cracking up, especially Mike Jones. He played with the Patriots from 1994 to 1997, and Drew still remembers getting burned by him, even more than 20 years later.
"I always got a lot of grief because I've got a big head. I tell people I'm really smart. I've got a big brain," he said. "He told me one time, 'Man, Bledsoe your head is so big when you put on a turtle neck, you got to put that thing on feet first.' I don't know how you come back from that."
He was into wine even in his playing days.
Drew and his family now own Doubleback Winery and The Bledsoe Family Winery in Walla Walla, Wash., and he said his interest in the industry started simply: he and his wife just really liked wine. When he was playing in New England, Drew would invite teammates over for dinner and have some fun with their shared interest.
"We would do blind tastings at the house, where we'd put them in paper bags and taste these wines – Californias, Bordeaux, wherever. I would bring some Walla Walla stuff, which is my hometown. I would put it in these blind tastings, and the Walla Walla stuff would win the tastings," he said. "So I was like, 'Wow. Okay, my little hometown is actually making some serious juice.' That was really where that started. Went way down that rabbit hole and it kind of hit me in the face how much I didn't know, not only about wine but about business and about all of these things. It's been a continuous education since then."
He even appeared in a commercial for Sportscenter in 1997 talking about, you guessed it, wine (among other things).
On Scott Zolak's drawings before team meetings.
"I don't know if he does any of this stuff of his caricature sketches anymore but he could work at the fair drawing caricatures of people. He would come in on weeks that he had won and he would come in and draw caricatures of teammates and coaches on the overhead so when coach walked in and turned it on, there'd be a caricature drawing of someone. He was really good at it. Really talented, really funny."
He has a lot of advice for NFL players in their post-football life.
"The second thing is you've got to humble yourself and realize that you're not even a rookie. You're going back to high school in terms of your experience in the business world. You've got to recognize that you don't know very much, and then you go find mentors that can teach you and help you," Drew said. "Lastly, I tell guys you have to apply the same disciplines that allowed you to be successful as an athlete to the rest of your life. Hard work, planning, perseverance, leadership, adapting to adversity and working through adversity. All of those characteristics that allowed us to be successful, if you do it properly, you can apply those for the rest of your life."
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