BLEDSOE MEETS BUFFALO!

Last time I saw Drew Bledsoe it was on Bourbon Street the week of Super Bowl XXXVI in February. Bledsoe seemed out of place and uncomfortable perusing the New Orleans nightlife, but he was there, at least checking it out.

By most accounts, Bledsoe is a respectful, non-hell-raising player. Tom Donahoe described him today as a man with high morals: "a great character guy." Bills owner Ralph Wilson said he held his breath "for nine years" – the amount of time Bledsoe spent with the Patriots – whenever Bledsoe squared off against his Bills.

Today Bledsoe arrived in Buffalo, and he said all the right things: he's happy to be a Bill; he wants to win a championship; and he considered one of his quarterback heroes Jim Kelly. Those are great ways to get the crowd on his side immediately.

He also refused to criticize his ex-team and the way it handled his situation. He's professional and classy – at least more professional and classy than Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie proved to be.

Underneath Bledsoe's comments, however, he seemed subdued – almost out of place and uncomfortable, just as he appeared on Bourbon Street.

Now maybe Bledsoe is not a very excitable person. But let's face it, he has to be disappointed by the way things turned out for him in New England. He's still dealing with the shock of going to Buffalo. The fans are great here, but it's going to take some time for him to feel comfortable. There will be an adjustment. I mean Bledsoe never really knew anyone in the Bills organization before a few days ago. That's culture shock.

He'll get through it, though.

In retrospect, I never thought the Bills were capable of acquiring a "name" player like this in today's NFL. I didn't think the Patriots would deal him to an AFC East team. I was wrong. I also thought Rob Johnson was going to be good. I was wrong there too.

But this I'm sure of: the Patriots have hurt Bledsoe, which is why he's eager to sidestep the hoopla surrounding his Buffalo arrival and get back on the field. It can't happen soon enough for him, and it will start with mini-camp this weekend.

At 30 years old, Bledsoe still has potential. And while there has never been anything wrong with his competitiveness, the wounds he feels from New England should provide even more motivation for him to win. He could be the NFL's comeback player of the year this season. He's got the tools around him to do it.

 


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