There’s not that much in common between Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, excpet for one thing. They both took over the starting quarterback job after the man ahead of them in the depth chart got injured.

While we still have no idea about the long term repercussions of giving Colin Kaepernick the job over Alex Smith for the 49ers and what they will be, the move to make Tom Brady as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots over Drew Bledsoe more than 11 years ago resulted in one of the most dominant periods ever for an NFL team, including three trophies and five trips to the Super Bowl.

Drew Bledsoe wasn’t a limited, controversial pick of a quarterback like Alex Smith: He was a pro bowler and all-pro, who already led his team to the Super Bowl, going on to lose against the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre. After his time with the Patriots ended, he move to the Buffalo Bills for two years and then a couple of more with the Dallas Cowboys.

In Dallas, the same thing happened, just without the injury. His play was erratic during his second season, and eventually he was replaced by Tony Romo, becoming the starter from that moment until now. Bledsoe refused to continue in the NFL as a backup and retired after being released from the Cowboys and not finding a job as a starter at the age of 35.

Now? He operates an acclaimed winery in Washington State, and knows perfectly well what Alex Smith is going through, as he told Sportsonearth.

While the team was having great success, and I was a part of that to an extent, it was personally a very difficult time for me. It was tough to watch this team take off and run while I’m standing on the sidelines. I kind of bottled that all up and put the team first. It wasn’t easy. 

Bledsoe did become a part of his team’s Super Bowl title in the 2001 season, playing in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, completing 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, leading the team to a conference title.

That moment stands out for me and makes that Super Bowl ring more satisfying. At least I know I was on the field at a pivotal time of the season. When I had that chance to come back and play, it was an outlet for all that emotion I kept inside.

Alex is handling it the right way. He’s not causing trouble for the organization. He seems pretty supportive of Kaepernick. The benefit he’ll see from this is, when other teams look to sign him, they’ll know that not only are they getting a good player, they’re getting a high character guy, a team guy. It’s going to open up a lot of opportunities.

There were some unique things about Tom. He was just a sponge. He was in my hip pocket all the time, asking questions, trying to understand what I was looking at, how I was approaching the game. He was a great student of everything going on around him. And he’s that way today. When you watch him, you see someone who’s continuously trying to improve and look for advantages. It led me to believe he was going to be around the game a long time, because of the way he approached the game. Certainly I was in the same boat with everyone else from the standpoint that nobody saw this coming, with what he’s done in his career. But he was definitely going to be around a long time.

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