Drew Bledsoe Says Brady and Belichick Have Huge Tension and 'Tommy Thrives on It.'

At some point last night, I reached my limit of being lectured about social justice from actresses in million dollar outfits who pay their undocumented servants less than minimum wage and getting nagged about the environment from actors who fly private jets to Europe to bang models on private yachts that measure fuel consumption in gallons per mile. So while it cost me the chance to hear the fifth best Joker ever (1. Heath Leger, 2. Mark Hamill, 3. Jack Nicholson, 4. Cesar Romero) deliver his TED Talk on cow insemination, I switched to ESPN's "E:60" profile of Drew Bledsoe

Bledsoe is a unique guy, to say the least. In his first decade in the league, he'd gone from savior of a franchise to a Super Bowl quarterback to one of the most debated over athletes of my lifetime to the guy who started a Dynasty by ... getting injured. It's cruel to put it that way. But it's objectively true. If he doesn't get vivisected by Mo Lewis in Week 2 of 2001 (the first game back after 9/11), then Tom Brady maybe never sees the field. Or he does eventually, but too late to save the season. 

And from time to time, I think all of us have wondered what it's been like from Bledsoe's perspective, to see the franchise that before that season had made him the highest paid player in NFL history go on to unparalleled success without him. As noble as he's been about it, he's still a human being. And on some level, he has to feel like Walter White did watching Elliot Schwartz take their company Gray Matter to the Fortune 500 while he's working an after school job at a car wash. The major difference being that Bledsoe has built an upscale wine empire instead of cooking meth in the desert. But still. You wonder. 

Anyway, the show is excellent. Bledsoe remains a thoughtful, self-reflective and honest guy. Impossible not to like. Starting with his most candid comments in the whole interview, about the nature of the relationship between the player who replaced him and the coach who benched and then traded him.

"You're talking about Tommy. He knows 100 percent that if Belichick feels like he can replace him at a lower number with somebody that's going to give him comparable production, that's it. And he knows that unequivocally, and he's even commented on it.

"In terms of their relationship, you know you work with somebody for 18 or 19 years or whatever -- I mean, it's not always going to be warm and fuzzy. Especially when it's Belichick, who's not warm and fuzzy to begin with, particularly in a work environment. So is there some tension? I'm certain that there is, but that stress and tension can drive attention to detail. It can drive work ethic. ...

"Belichick's great at creating that discomfort. And to be honest with you, I think Tommy thrives on it."

Fantastic. Exactly what the world needs to hear. Especially everyone who's spent the last few years pushing this narrative that Brady is sick of listening to Belichick's nonsense and wants to be treated with love and warmth or else he's leaving. Never before in the history of America has the interpersonal feelings of two grown men been so psychoanalyzed. Wrongly. As if somehow the two can't function together because they don't get under a blanket on the sofa and binge "The Crown" on their days off. 

Like Bledsoe says, Brady thrives on it. He's that rare person in any field who's accomplished everything, but still prefers to be pushed hard. Who likes to be rode hard and put away wet, as the country folk say. You can see it on the practice field, when there's a mess up of the center exchange and Brady's the first one to start running a lap under the July sun. And he's got just the coach to do it. I doubt Brady would know what to do if all of a sudden he found himself with some Pete Carroll type, rubbing his shoulders and reminding him all the time how magical and wondrous his existence is. It's great to hear someone who knows Brady as well as anybody remind everyone what the reality is. And how solid the Brady-Belichick dynamic is. 

Here's just a few of the other insights he offer in the show:

-- On his first impressions of Brady:

[W]hen he was on the practice squad his rookie year, I actually called my financial advisor about him. I was like, ‘Hey, I really like this kid. He’s never going to be a starter. He’s going to be Jason Garrett or one of those guys that’s just going to be around forever. You’ll really like the kid. We kind of brought him in. He was over our house. We had him over for dinner probably at least every other week. But just really liked him. Liked the kid. I thought he was just [great] and still do. 

-- On working for Bill Parcells:

“Not enjoyable. I mean, he was not fun to play with, and anybody who ever tells you he was is just flat-out lying to you. … It was a tough relationship.”

-- On the Super Bowl ring he won for playing basically eight quarters of football, including the 2nd half of the AFC championship game:

“Truth be told, I didn’t wear it for quite a while. I didn’t know where it was for a long time. But now I wear it, every now and then. I’m proud of it, partly because I couldn’t torn down the whole show if I wanted to be an idiot. And instead I tried to be a good teammate. So I’m proud of it, but it took a little while.”

-- On how close he came to dying from the Mo Lewis hit that split his aorta and collapsed his lung:


“Our trainer and the team [doctor] grabbed me after the game. They threw me in the ambulance. My brother actually rode with me in the ambulance to Mass General Hospital. We got just on the outskirts of Boston and I went lights-out.”

I suppose almost dying from a hit (and coming back out to play three more downs while your body cavity filled up with blood like the tough bastard he is) will mellow a man's perspective when it comes to losing your starting job and winning a ring as a backup. Plus time will heal, if not all wounds, a lot of them. As will being a super successful wine entrepreneur who will always be welcome at the franchise you helped turn into a winner throughout your 20s. And when Drew Bledsoe talks about the inner workings of this team, this quarterback and this coach, there's nobody better to listen to.