Tomorrow, the New England Patriots will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. And as the Patriots announced on Friday, the team's former starting quarterback – Drew Bledsoe – will serve as an honorary captain for the conference title game. In that role, he will accompany the two teams' captains to midfield for the coin toss before kickoff.
After New England selected him with the first overall draft pick in 1993, Bledsoe spent nine seasons with the team. As a starter, he compiled a total record of 66-63 and led the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI. On the way to the franchise's second appearance on the big stage, Bledsoe eliminated the Jaguars in the AFC title game. New England won 20-6 while the quarterback completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 178 yards and an interception.
“Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots,” team owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the team. “He gave fans hope for the future by providing many memorable moments during his record-breaking career. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival.”
In his final year with the Patriots and after having lost his starting role to Tom Brady, Bledsoe helped New England reach Super Bowl XXXVI: The veteran entered the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Brady had suffered an ankle injury. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 for 102 yards and a touchdown while the Patriots defeated the Steelers 24-17 on the road.