The Tuna: Bledsoe or Mirer?

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The Patriots had a huge decision that needed to be made, draft Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer with the first overall selection in the 1993 NFL Draft.  The pre-draft debate raged all offseason long.  The Patriots had to make a decision that would alter the franchise and the Seahawks would get the other quarterback.  

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Mirer was looked at as the more buttoned-up of the two quarterbacks.  The senior out of Notre Dame was 29-7-1 as a starter that included appearances in three bowl games.  In 1991, Mirer set the single season touchdown record with 18 and was named co-MVP of the 1992 Sugar Bowl with running back Jerome Bettis.  He also led the Fighting Irish to wins at the Orange Bowl and in the Cotton Bowl.  Heading into the 1993 draft there was major hype surrounding Mirer.  NFL experts had hyped the future first rounder to Joe Montana, so there were lofty expectations already there for Mirer. 

On the flip side, the Patriots were very interested in Walla Walla, Washington native Bledsoe.  The tall, laid-back Bledsoe had a rocket of an arm and Head Coach Bill Parcells liked the thought of having a young quarterback who could air out the pigskin.  Bledsoe was always the favorite to go No. 1 after his freshman season at Washington State.  According to The Athletic, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper proclaimed that Bledsoe would be the top pick in the 1993 draft if he declared early. 

Parcells was sorting through an organization that was a mess.  The mess of the field was starting to grow bigger.  Then Patriots owner James Orthwein made it incredibly public his intention that he wanted to sell the team for the right price.  The suitors began to line up.  Robert Kraft, a season ticket holder since 1972 and the owner of Foxboro Stadium, was the most aggressive suitor.  

Kraft had the upper hand in his quest to own the Patriots. He had aspired to own a local franchise but the timing to own a team never seemed to lineup. During the mid-1980’s, Kraft acquired pieces of real estate around the stadium.  The Sullivans owned the team and stadium, but they didn’t own the surrounding land.  Kraft and Orthwein did battle off the field to figure out the ownership of the Patriots. 

Parcells, who had ability to push the buttons of his players to want to make them better, was about to draft a quarterback that would alter the franchise forever.  The day of the NFL Draft, Bledsoe and his family arrived to the draft thinking he would be a New England Patriot, but he never received word from Parcells prior to the draft. As Bledsoe sat waiting patiently, then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue took the podium and announced the Patriots draft selection.  The commissioner announced the Patriots selected Bledsoe with the first overall selection.  Bledsoe, wearing jeans and a red button shirt stood up and smiled, grabbed the new draft day hat with the Patriots new logo, the Flying Elvis.  ESPN's Chris Berman showed off the Patriots new jersey and Bledsoe headed to the podium and met the commissioner.  ESPN panned to Foxboro where Tom Jackson interviewed Parcells.  

“I’m feeling really good and I think we selected a player that will make a significant contribution to our team” said Parcells.  “I do want to dispel the myth that I would refer to this quarterback as a franchise quarterback, I don’t think that kind of label is a proper one coming out of college," followed up Parcells.  Whether he considered Bledsoe a franchise quarterback or not, that is what they drafted him.  Bledsoe would now begin to usher in a new brand of football in New England. 

A new era was about to be ushered into Foxboro, a new era that came with a ton of pressure for someone who was selected with the No.1 overall pick in the draft.  The mild mannered, tall quarterback from Walla Walla, Washington was now across the country in one of the toughest media markets in sports.  The Patriots had a franchise quarterback much to the chagrin of Parcells and a team that was used to being a bunch of “patsies” would no longer be losers, they would be a team destined for great things under Parcells.


Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Tuna: Bledsoe or Mirer?
The Tuna: Bledsoe or Mirer?
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