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Drew Bledsoe says Julian Edelman’s beard makes him look like a ‘homeless logger’ 02.17.17 at 9:52 am ET
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Drew Bledsoe used to wear No. 11 for the Patriots. Julian Edelman wears No. 11 for the Patriots now. And apparently, Bledsoe doesn’t think the charismatic wideout is doing his legacy well.

Edelman, who prides himself as a fashionista, is rocking some unruly facial hair these days. On Twitter, Bledsoe said he should clean it up.

After making perhaps the best catch in Super Bowl history, Edelman can look like a hobo if he likes. But this writer agrees with Bledsoe: the clean-shaven or scruffy look suits him best.

Read More: drew bledsoe, Julian Edelman,
Drew Bledsoe compares playing quarterback for the Jets to being sacrificial virgin 11.04.14 at 8:36 am ET
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Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2006, but he did have some interesting things to say about playing quarterback for the Jets.

“Going to play quarterback for the Jets … it’€™s kind of like, you know when they used to take the pretty young virgin up to the edge of the volcano and then just throw them in?”€ Bledsoe said on ESPN Radio, via the N.Y. Daily News. “€œThat’€™s kind of what it is when you play quarterback for the Jets. It just feels bad.”

Bledsoe is happy for former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez who is now getting a chance to play with the Eagles after Nick Foles went down with a broken collarbone in Sunday’s game.

“Mark had to live with that for a long time,”€ Bledsoe added about Sanchez playing for the Jets. “€œAnd people threw him under the bus like he was the whole reason for the demise of the Jets. To see him be able to come on to the field in a good system, with good talent and perform well, I’€™m just really happy for him.”

Read More: drew bledsoe, Mark Sanchez, New York Jets,
LEEInks List: Memorable Patriots season-openers 09.12.11 at 8:24 am ET
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In football as in all sports, season-openers are a time of clean slates and fresh hopes, but they are also a time of unanswered questions. The newest edition of the Patriots will open their season Monday night in Miami with a number of questions. How will Albert Haynesworth fit in on defense? Will the two losses to close out the preseason carry over into the regular season? Will Chad Ochocinco be an integral part of the team?

With the Patriots poised to start answering those questions, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable openers in franchise history to see what types of questions those openers both answered and generated.

Sept. 9, 1960: Who are the Patriots?

One of the most important openers for the Patriots was their first regular-season game in franchise history, a 13-10 loss to the Broncos. The Patriots were known then as the Boston Patriots. They did not have their own stadium at the time, so they played at Boston University’s Nickerson Field. Gino Cappelletti‘s 35-yard field goal gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Broncos responded behind quarterback Frank Tripucka, who completed a 59-yard pass to Al Carmichael to push the Broncos ahead 7-3 at the end of the first half. Gene Mingo extended the Denver lead to 13-3 with his 76-yard punt return (kick failed) in the third quarter, and although the Patriots answered when quarterback Butch Songin connected with Jim Colclough for a 10-yard touchdown pass, the Broncos held on for the 13-10 win. The Patriots finished the year 5-9, good for fourth in the AFL East.

Sept. 20, 1970: How will the Patriots do after the NFL/AFL merger?

In 1970, the NFL and AFL merged, and in late September, the Patriots played their first game as a member of the AFC East, recording a 27-14 win over the Dolphins at Harvard Stadium. Quarterback Mike Taliaferro threw a touchdown and an interception, Cappelletti kicked two field goals and Jim Nance and Carl Garrett each rushed for a touchdown in the win. A good start did not translate into a good season, however. The Patriots won just one more game for the rest of the season, and their 2-12 finish went down as the third-worst season in franchise history.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, drew bledsoe, Gino Cappelletti, Jim Nance
LEEInks List: Boston sports figures’ movie cameos (no Oscars here) 02.28.11 at 9:08 am ET
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Editor’s note: In recognition of Sunday night’s Academy Awards, during which one of the honored movies was the Massachusetts-based sports film “The Fighter,” we’re republishing this list that first appeared on our site last year.

Some people just can’€™t be pleased. Common knowledge has it that many musicians want to be athletes, hundreds of athletes want to be musicians, and plenty of actors are envious of athletes. The same stands for athletes being actors. All too many times, athletes stand out as the awkward people who never have more than a few droning lines and can never really advance the plot of the film beyond the lone scene they’€™re in. Of course, the ploy never matters much to the studio bigwigs as it can bring in thousands of an athlete’€™s fans to just catch a brief glimpse of their hero during the course of a two-hour film.

It’€™s not always that way, however; whenever an athlete is being an athlete on screen, things seems slightly more natural. Think Barry Bonds in “Rookie of the Year,” Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun,” or the litany of NBA players who co-starred with Lil Bow Wow in “Like Mike.” For every Jim Brown (“The Dirty Dozen”), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (“Airplane!”) and O.J. Simpson (“The Naked Gun”), there’€™s a Michael Jordan (“Space Jam”), Shaquille O’€™Neal (“Kazaam” and “Steel”) and Dwayne ‘€œThe Rock’€ Johnson (“The Game Planand “The Tooth Fairy”) who should never step on a Hollywood set.

For Boston fans, they can only hope that their heroes can get onto a list of the former and not the latter. Rajon Rondo can now be seen in the basketball-rich movie “Just Wright” starring Queen Latifah and Common ‘€” when he isn’€™t making historic plays that can be added to the pantheon of Celtics playoff moments, that is. Thankfully, Rondo is starring as himself, playing basketball, so things are looking good so far. In his honor, let’€™s count down some of the best movie cameos by Boston sports icons. Note that we are not including Celtics guard Ray Allen (“He Got Game”) because he was playing for another team at the time. And we’ll tell you right now, Dennis & Callahan fans, that your heroes didn’t make the cut. Sorry.

10. Derek Sanderson

During the heyday of the Big Bad Bruins, Turk made an appearance as himself in the 1971 movie “Face-off,” about a pro hockey player and a folk singer who fall in love. He also appeared in the horror film “A Knife for the Ladies” in 1974, during his second stint in Boston. It wasn’t surprising to see Sanderson on the big screen, as he was known as someone who rode his fame and fortune as far as he could take it.

9. Rick Fox

Fox, a first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 1991, played in Boston until 1997, when he signed with the Lakers in part so he could continue the acting career he started while a Celtic. In 1994, he made an appearance in the college basketball movie “Blue Chips,” and two years later he had a role in “Eddie,” the movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg as a fan turned coach of the New York Knicks. Fox has gone on to become a regular on the big and small screens. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Academy Awards, cam neely, drew bledsoe, Fenway Park
LEEInks List: Most memorable Patriots preseason moments 08.12.10 at 6:48 am ET
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The Patriots take on the Saints Thursday in a matchup between arguably the greatest NFL franchise of the last decade and the reigning Super Bowl champions. Too bad very few of the stars from either of those teams will actually spend much time on the field, as second- and third-stringers will account for most of the downs played in this preseason game.

Ah yes, the hotly debated NFL preseason is upon us. There is a current movement afoot to shorten the preseason. However, that would devoid football fans of some great moments surrounding the NFL’s version of spring training. As this list of the greatest Patriots preseason moments will prove, there’€™s the good (opening of new stadiums, team debuts), the bad (horrible, sometimes career-ending injuries) and the down-right entertaining (players trying out new roles).

10. Flutie tries out as punt returner

Any individual who has ever seen Doug Flutie play the game of football, and there are many given the popularity of the ‘€œHail Mary,’€ knows that he’€™s a highly entertaining player to watch on the gridiron. The Patriots were trying to find a way to get Flutie on the field when they tried the Heisman-winning quarterback as a punt returner during a game against the Bengals on Aug. 26, 1988. Those in attendance might remember the Boston College product muffing the only punt that came his way. Obviously, the role never stuck, and neither did Flutie in New England. He headed to Canada after the 1989 season.

9. Pats play Cowboys in Mexico City

The Patriots and Cowboys played in front of what was the second-largest crowd in NFL history at the time when the teams took the field on Aug. 17, 1998, in Mexico City for a preseason game that was called the American Bowl. One more time, the second-largest crowd in NFL history for a preseason game. That means it was pretty memorable to the 106,424 individuals in attendance at Azteca Stadium, but for those Pats fans at home, it was just another preseason game as the hometown team beat the ‘Boys, 21-3.

8. Parcells, Bledsoe make debut

Two of the biggest figures in Patriots history ‘€” Drew Bledsoe and Bill Parcells ‘€” made their debut on Aug. 7, 1993, in a preseason game in San Diego. Parcells had just come out of retirement to coach the Pats, and Bledsoe was playing in his first NFL game after being drafted first overall out of Washington State. Sounds like it would be a pretty memorable affair, right? Well, the game, a 13-7 loss to the Chargers, was rather forgettable. Bledsoe went on to win the starting gig out of the preseason, but the Patriots suffered through a 5-11 record in the regular season.

7. First game at Schaefer, Plunkett’€™s first home game with Pats

The Patriots finally moved out of Boston for good in 1971 and moved into what was then called Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro. (It was later changed to Sullivan Stadium and eventually Foxboro Stadium.) In the building’€™s debut on Aug. 15, 1971, a whopping 60,423 fans showed up not only to see the new digs but also first-overall pick Jim Plunkett. Some fans might remember concerns about the stadium’€™s plumbing leading up to its opener.

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Read More: Bill Parcells, Doug Flutie, drew bledsoe, Jim Plunkett
LEEInks list: Boston athletes who requested a trade 06.23.10 at 7:47 am ET
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Last week, offensive lineman Logan Mankins expressed his frustration with the Patriots by requesting a trade. As is often the case, money is the root of the player’s discontent. Other times, a lack of playing time leads to a request for change of scenery. And there are other reasons as well. Here are 10 Boston athletes who requested, demanded or pushed to be traded by their behavior.

10. Kyle McLaren ‘€“ Dealing with injuries after seven years with the Bruins, McLaren was insulted when the Bruins proposed a two-way contract, a rarity for a veteran of McLaren’s stature. The former No. 9 overall pick asked for a trade, and his wish was granted when he was shipped to San Jose in 2002.

9. Jason Allison ‘€“ The star center was coming off a 95-point season in 2000-01 and had inherited the role of captain from Bruins legend Ray Bourque. But when the teams disagreed on an appropriate yearly salary by a reported $2 million, Allison held out and made it clear he would not play for the Bruins at a discounted rate. Allison was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in October 2001, and he got his money: approximately $20 million for three years. In the Bruins’ defense, it should be noted that Allison hardly earned his money in LA, playing a year and a half and posting solid but unspectacular numbers before being sidelined by injuries.

8. Jay Payton ‘€“ Payton joined the team before the 2005 season as a fourth outfielder. Only, he viewed himself as deserving of more regular playing time. In June, he asked to be traded. To force the Sox’ hand, he got into a confrontation with manager Terry Francona during a game in early July, complaining that he wasn’t hitting high enough in the order. He would then be designated for assignment and traded to Oakland. Once an official member of the A’€™s, Payton hit a home run in his first at-bat to begin his career on the right foot with the California ballclub. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: drew bledsoe, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra,
Freeney joins all-time Super Bowl injury list 02.05.10 at 8:04 pm ET
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Dwight Freeney, step on up. You are this year’€™s biggest story leading up to the Super Bowl. It wouldn’€™t be Super Bowl week — weeks, actually — without a major story dominating the headlines.

During the Colts’€™ victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game, Freeney went to rush Mark Sanchez but pulled up lame on his right ankle. This injury occurred late in the game, when it was already in hand, and it makes you wonder why the Colts would have their star player in at that juncture when they pulled their starters during a run at perfection. That’€™s for another day though.

Freeney is listed as questionable and according to this report that appeared on SI.com, he seems to be doing everything to try and get ready for play. Of course, it is also worth taking stock of what Adam Schefter said on the Dennis & Callahan Show on Friday: “Dwight Freeney as we know Dwight Freeney is not playing on Sunday.”

His status will probably not be set in stone until game time and the media has picked apart every scenario for the Colts. Whether Freeney plays, if he doesn’€™t, what type of impact he can make to help or hurt the team. The storylines have all been discussed ad nauseum.

New England fans don’€™t have their beloved Patriots in the Super Bowl this year, but there is still a vested interest in the game, because what true Pats fan wants to see Peyton Manning and the Colts raise the Lombardi Trophy? What true fan wants to see the Colts mentioned in the same breath with the Patriots’€™ dynasty earlier in the decade?

Fans all over New England will be hoping and praying Freeney won’€™t be 100 percent to do to the Saints’€™ offensive line what he has done to Matt Light and seemingly everyone else — except for Sebastian Vollmer — on the New England for years, which is cause havoc.

The injury story is nothing new with New England fans during Super Bowl week. Here are a few cases where injuries were a major story during a Patriots run at a title and also some other great injury stories during the biggest game of the year.

Brady or Bledsoe

Remember when Tom Brady stepped into Drew Bledsoe‘€™s shoes and brought the Patriots all the way to the AFC Championship? Well, the roles were reversed in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Brady went down with a lower leg injury in the second quarter. Bledsoe came in and threw a touchdown pass to David Patten, then Troy Brown and the special teams took over from there.

Maybe you don’€™t remember, but there was a small controversy over who would start in the Super Bowl: Brady or Bledsoe. It wasn’€™t sure if Brady’€™s leg would be completely healthy for the big game and Bledsoe was hungry and ready to step back into the limelight.

Belichick decided on Brady, and the rest is history: Pats win, Brady becomes a superstar, Bledsoe sent packing to Buffalo.

Lynn Swann

This story probably wouldn’€™t have happened in today’€™s NFL. Swann was diagnosed with a concussion in the AFC Championship game against the Raiders and played in the Super Bowl.

Only to do this:

In today’€™s NFL, especially this season, Swann probably wouldn’€™t have been allowed back on the field. The mandates for concussions have changed since Swann made that miraculous catch back in Super Bowl X. Swann’€™s efforts to play in the game were heroic, but rather dangerous, considering what is known now about numerous concussions.

But, it’€™s a sign of the times, and Swann’€™s moment will go down in NFL history.

Terrell Owens

The question on everyone’€™s mind was if TO was going to play in the Super Bowl or if his broken leg was going to keep him out of the game.

Owens was going to gobble up the cameras no matter what he did before the Eagles played the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles’€™ wide-out was in the prime of his career and playing at an extremely high level with Donovan McNabb.

Owens suffered a broken leg on a hit by Roy Williams in a December game, and was a question mark heading into Super Sunday.

Well, Owens did play, and he was a force for the Eagles. He caught nine balls for 122 yards, and made life miserable for the Patriots secondary’€¦on one leg. Say what you want about Owens, but this was one of the boldest moves a player can make in his career. He risked the future of his playing career to win that game, but the Eagles came up short.

Owens would only last only one and a half seasons in Philly, as his usual off-the field antics led to his departure the following year, somewhere in the middle of some sit-up sessions with Drew Rosenhaus that were conducted in front of the media the following summer.

Jack Youngblood

While Owens put on an impressive show, Jack Youngblood, a 6-foot-4, 267 pound Hall of Fame defensive end, displayed what it really means to be a football player. In the 1979 playoffs while playing for the Rams, Youngblood broke his leg, an injury that would knock many players out for the game if not the entire postseason, but not Youngblood.

Read Peter King’€™s article right before the Super Bowl in 2005, when the Owens story was unfolding, and find out how Youngblood taped up his leg and played all the way to the Super Bowl.

Here’s a quick excerpt from Youngblood in the article: “I told the trainers, ‘Tape me up!’ And so they came in, strapped my leg as tight as they could. The pain was excruciating. I can’t even describe it. But they couldn’t shoot the bone with a painkiller; that stuff doesn’t work on bones.”

This story would be unheard of today with all the doctors, trainers and specialists on the sidelines. Owens and Youngblood both displayed amazing toughness in grinding out these injuries and playing large parts in their teams’ run to the Super Bowl.

Pursuit of Perfection

This one is tough to talk about, but heading into the game, the bad omen started after the Patriots displaced the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.

Tom Brady was seen walking to Gisele Bunchden’€™s apartment in an air cast, and the speculation began about an apparent high ankle sprain. This also made major headlines because Brady was playing at a pace that was never seen before in the NFL. Fifty touchdown passes in the regular season, the leader of a 18-0 team heading into the Super Bowl … and now his status was up in the air.

Neither Belichick nor Brady was going to say if this was a ploy or a game, but this began one of the most stressed-filled weeks for New England fans, minus the Red Sox comeback versus the Yankees.

Brady would play and … yeah, you remember.

Read More: drew bledsoe, dwight freeney, jack youngblood, lynn swann
What Scott Brown Can Learn From Pedro … And Clement 01.20.10 at 11:13 am ET
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And the winner is’€¦Scott Brown. (Hopefully this isn’€™t breaking news to you at this point).

The race to fill the late Ted Kennedy’€™s seat has finally come to a conclusion. No more negative ads of he said, she said. No more advertisements in general, dominating the radio and television airwaves every second of our lives.

No more phone calls. Thank goodness no more phone calls. Scott Brown, Martha Coakley and their supporters will not be making you look twice at your caller ID before picking up the phone. The question ‘€œWho do I know from this area code?’€ will no longer be relevant in your life at this moment.

Love him or hate him, Ted Kennedy was the face of Massachusetts’€™ politics during his long career. He held his Senate post for nearly five decades, up until his death in August of 2009, and his legacy will always live on in this state. Brown will have a daunting task of making the people of Massachusetts forget about Kennedy, while trying to make a name for himself.

Just like replacing Kennedy, replacing a Boston sports legend is a hard thing to do. Some replacements fall on their face, while others strive and make life after those legends a little bit easier to deal with.

Here is a look at how some Boston sports legends were replaced after their great careers.

The Original Big Three: Bird, McHale and Parish.

Things were pretty good for Celtics fans during the 1980s. Every time these three took the court, something special could potentially happen. Bird was the obvious ringleader of this trio, as he captured three straight MVPs (‘€™84-‘€™86) and led the Celtics to three banners during his tenure. With McHale and Parish on the floor, he could really show-off his famous passing skills to keep everyone involved.

The Celtics were primed to keep the legacy of the trio going when they selected Len Bias No. 2 in the 1986 draft, but his unfortunate death on draft night signaled that the heir-apparent would never step on the parquet.

The C’€™s floundered after Bird, McHale and Parish left. Another possible replacement, Reggie Lewis, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1993 and now there definitely wasn’€™t an answer for the post ‘€œBig Three’€ era.

It took 22 years for the Celtics to get back on top with the ‘€œNew Big Three” of Garnett, Pierce and Allen, but for all those years, the back-up plans kept falling through, and the Green lost it’€™s spot as top dog in Boston during that period.

Roger Clemens

Clemens burst on the scene in 1986, winning his first Cy Young and winning the AL MVP while leading the Sox back to the World Series. (We all know what happened there.)

He was ‘€œthe’€ pitcher to watch during his stint in Boston, and seemed destined to be a Red Sox for life, but a late-career spat with GM Dan Duquette forced ‘€œThe Rocket’€ out of town and eventually into the arms of the hated Yankees, after a stint with the Blue Jays.

Clemens still sits on top of the Red Sox win list with 192 victories, but if Tim Wakefield stays healthy and productive for a few more seasons, that record could fall.

As far as replacements go, the Red Sox did pretty well. Clemens’€™ departure paved the way for a trade with the Montreal Expos for a wiry-young man named Pedro Martinez. Pedro proved a more than worthy successor to the Rocket, even as the thought of those two guys in the same rotation was tantalizing.

Pedro went on to claim the Cy Young after a 23-4 season with a 2.07 ERA in 1999, still one of the greatest seasons by any pitcher in the history of baseball. Pedro also became an all-day event when he took the mound, and the party would last until the night, usually leaving the Fenway faithful happy customers.

He also brought flair to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, and some of his quotes were just legendary.

Replacing him is next on our list.

Pedro Martinez

Matt Clement and David Wells. Those were the two guys who tried to fill Pedro’s shoes. Granted, it was the right move not to offer Pedro all that money and all those years with his physical conditions (as the Mets came to discover over the next four years), but the 2005 team missed the Pedro flair, especially coming off a 2004 World Series win.

Clement showed flashes in the beginning of the 2005 season, going 10-2 and getting an All-Star nod, but who can forget the infamous night at Tropicana Field that pretty much ended his Red Sox career?

Wells was serviceable for the Red Sox in his brief stint, proving that he did look pretty good in a Sox uniform. He won 15 games in 2005, but overall, filling the shoes of the great Pedro Martinez proved impossible to do that first year after he left.

Drew Bledsoe

Let’€™s face it. The Patriots were terrible before Bledsoe came to town. The Patriots nabbed him out of Washington State with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and from there, the fate of the franchise changed.

Bledsoe had a powerful arm, and was the Patriots all-time leader in passing yards with 29,657 yards and threw 166 touchdowns while donning the Elvis helmet. He and Bill Parcells led the Pats to an AFC Championship crown in 1996, before being displaced by Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers — check that, Desmond Howard and the Green Bay Packers — in the Super Bowl.

Bledsoe signed the richest contract in Patriots history at 10 years $103 million before the 2001 season, but then this happened:

The rest is history. Tom Brady comes in, leads the Patriots to the Super Bowl that season, and Bledsoe is shipped out of town. Brady probably did the best fill-in job of any legend in the history of Boston. Does anyone think about Bledsoe and his Patriots days anymore? Does anyone remember the team that Bledsoe brought to that Super Bowl in 1996?

No, because Tom Brady has been, well, Tom Brady. Three rings, a near perfect season in 2007 in which he threw 50 touchdowns (an NFL record), and one supermodel wife later, Bledsoe is an afterthought.

After suffering a knee injury in 2008, Brady responded nicely in 2009. Other than the terrible ending to the season this past year, Brady should enjoy more success down the road.

This topic will be discussed for years and years to come, because athletes can’€™t play forever. Someone will always have to fill-in once the golden years of a legend in Boston are over. The “New Big Three” will have to be replaced. Tom Brady (gulp) will one day no longer be the signal-caller for the Patriots. (Of course, Matt Cassell probably deserves a place on the all fill-in team as well for his work in 2008.)

Scott Brown’s task will be challenging. Years from now, we will know whether he became more Brady or Clement.

Read More: drew bledsoe, martha coakley, matt clement, Pedro Martinez
Belichick’s Chopping Block: The Most Memorable Patriots Farewells 09.08.09 at 3:16 am ET
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Since replacing current USC head coach Pete Carroll prior to the 2000 NFL season, Bill Belichick’s head coaching tenure with the New England Patriots has been nothing short of an absolute success with three Super Bowl rings and recognition as the NFL Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2007. He has coached through injuries (see Tom Brady 2008), scandals (Spygate 2007), and even one losing season (2000), yet still has managed to be regarded by many as the best coach in the NFL.

Throughout all of his professional coaching accomplishments with the Patriots, however, Belichick has had to face numerous occasions that resulted him bidding farewell to both a fan favorite and a homegrown franchise player in order to dump salary or shed experience for youth.

The latest farewell bid came Sunday when the Patriots traded away defensive end Richard Seymour, who was entering the final year of his three-year contract, to the Oakland Raiders for their 2011 first-round draft pick.

The 29-year old Seymour was originally drafted by the Patriots as the sixth overall selection  in the 2001 draft. He was part of all three championship titles won under Belichick and his consistency and dominance on the field led him to be named to five straight Pro Bowls. Though he dealt with injuries during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Seymour returned in 2008 to end the year recording his usual productive numbers with 63 tackles and eight sacks.

Belichick, though he did not showcase the same tearful, emotional display he exhibited when speaking in reaction to Tedy Bruschi’s retirement, conveyed his respect and appreciation to Seymour for all he had contributed to the team.

“From nearly the day he arrived in 2001, Richard Seymour established himself as one of our premier players for nearly a decade. His presence has been felt as a force on the field, a respected man off it, and a multi-year champion,” Belichick remarked Sunday (as relayed in the It Is What It Is Blog).

Now with another franchise player departing from the fields of Foxboro as the most recent victim of Patriot Roulette, only Tom Brady, Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, and Stephen Neal remain as the lone members of all three championships in the Belichick era.

So with the sudden flight of Seymour from the cold New England weather to the mild Bay Area, here is a list of several other key players originally drafted by the Patriots who were either dealt away or left via free agency during the Belichick reign:

Drew Bledsoe: Receiving the honor of being the first overall selection in the 1993 draft, Bledsoe enjoyed a successful career with the Patriots, leading them to the 1996 Super Bowl XXXI though New England lost to the Green Bay Packers. After suffering an injury in the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was replaced by second-year quarterback Tom Brady. Though he never recaptured the starting job, Bledsoe filled in for Brady after he left the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and didn’t get in the way of New England’s trip to the Super Bowl.

Despite inking a 10-year contract prior to the 2001 season, Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 2002 for  their 2003 first-round draft pick (the Patriots would later trade up with the Chicago Bears taking defensive end Ty Warren 13th overall). Brady turned out to do a pretty decent job for the Patriots. Bledsoe, meanwhile, went on in 2002 to compile one of his best seasons ever, throwing 24 touchdowns for 4,359 yards to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Though Bledsoe never made the playoffs while with the Bills, he was eventually reunited with Bill Parcells in Dallas in 2005 where he led the Cowboys to a 9-7 season, one game short of clinching a playoff berth. In 2006, Bledsoe began the season as the starting quarterback before losing the spot to Tony Romo, who like Brady, took over for him during the season as Bledsoe never regained the starting role.

Deion Branch: An alumni of the University of Louisville, Branch was drafted by the Patriots in 2002 in the second round and was an important contributor to the 2004 and 2005 championship seasons as Brady’s favorite target. Named MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, Branch and the Patriots would fail to agree on a reconstructed contract prior to the 2006 season, causing the Pro Bowler to hold out from camp.

The Patriots, instead of meeting Branch’s demands, traded him to the Seattle Seahawks in September that year where they received a first-round draft pick in return, who would eventually become safety Brandon Meriweather. The Pats would miss the talents of Branch as they would miss reaching the 2007 Super Bowl, with bug-eyed Reche Caldwell making a couple of memorable drops in the AFC Championship Game.

In response, New England signed free agent receiver Wes Welker and traded for the dynamic Randy Moss in the off-season, both of whom would contribute to Brady’s MVP season and the incredible 18-1 run.

Since joining the Seahawks, Branch has been plagued by injuries. He was limited to only 11 games in 2007 and 8 in 2008.  He did, however, compete in the Seahawks’ playoff games in 2006 and 2007, but has yet to make it to the Super Bowl.

Matt Cassel: A year ago, Cassel’s departure would have been just another unnoticed move by the Patriots. After having a breakout 2008 season filling in for Tom Brady and leading New England to an 11-5 record, Cassel received a franchise tag — quite a bump up after being drafted in the seventh round in 2005. The Patriots tagged then traded him along with Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs, since Brady was expected back. Though this season concerning Brady’s health will tell if it was, indeed, a good move, Cassel gets the opportunity to continue starting at his position instead of sitting on the bench — whenever he gets healthy after a camp knee injury, that is.

Ty Law: Drafted 23rd overall in 1995 out of the University of Michigan, Law established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL. A nemesis of Peyton Manning, Law was most known for his three interception game off the Colt quarterback in the 2003 AFC Championship game. After missing the final nine games of the 2004 season, Law was cut prior to 2005 due to the salary cap and the $12 million-plus he was owed.

After being cut, Law signed a one-year deal with the Jets, where he collected a career-high 10 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. That same year, the Patriots would lose Pro Bowler Rodney Harrison to season-ending surgery as well as Tedy Bruschi, who suffered a stroke and missed half of the season. The Patriots struggled with a depleted defense, yet still managed to win the division.

Law later went on to play for Kansas City for two seasons, including a playoff appearance in 2007, where the Chiefs were ousted in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts. Law ended up returning to the Jets in the middle of last season, appearing in seven games.

Willie McGinest: The fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, the linebacker McGinest holds the record with 16 career postseason sacks. Owner of three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, McGinest reached the Pro Bowl in 1995 and 2003 while establishing himself as a leader of the New England defense. Due to a $7 million dollar cap he was owed before the 2006 season, the Patriots decided to cut the aging veteran, enabling McGinest to reunite with former Patriot defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel on the Browns. While he is currently a free agent, McGinest has said as recently as July that he would like to end his career in New England.

Lawyer Milloy: A safety selected in the second round  of the 1996 draft out of the University of Washington, Milloy quickly established himself as a force on the field, starting the final 10 games of his rookie campaign as well as the three playoff games. Part of the 2001 championship team, Milloy was named to the Pro Bowl four times in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002. Yet five days before the start of the 2003 season, Milloy was released after failing to strike a new deal with the team and eventually signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills.

The loss of Milloy shocked Patriot fans everywhere. Not only was Milloy the captain and leader of the defense, but many questioned who would fill the empty defensive spots. Several negative reports emerged concerning the turbulant relationship between Milloy and Belichick. Like Seymour, the sudden and unexpected departure of Milloy raised serious doubts as the season opener foreshadowed Doomesday after Milloy and the Bills ran over the Pats in a 31-0 roast. The struggle did not last long, however, as New England ended the season with a 14-2 record, ultimately winning the Super Bowl thanks in part to newcomers such as Rodney Harrison and Ted Washington, who helped to define a smothering New England defense. Milloy never did reach the playoffs with Buffalo and watched as the Patriots won two Super Bowls in his absence.

In 2006, Milloy became a member of the Atlanta Falcons and consistently played through the team’s struggles and controversy surrounding Michael Vick before finally making the playoffs in 2008.

On Sunday, the 35-year old Milloy inked a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

Asante Samuel: A stellar cornerback drafted in 2003 out of the University of Central Florida, Samuel was part of the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowl Championships with New England and received a Pro Bowl selection in 2007 . Placing the franchise tag on him prior to the 2007 season, Samuel turned in another spectacular season despite the team losing to the New York Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl XLII. Following the loss, Samuel became one of the most highly sought-after free agents as he signed a six-year, $56 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Though the Patriots and their fans knew they could not retain him with his exorbitant contract demands, injuries to key defensive players like Rodney Harrison in 2008 left many wondering if the right decision was made.

Adam Vinatieri: Who can forget the incredible game-tying kick in the blizzard of the 2001 AFC playoff game against the Raiders or the 48-yard field goal to give the Patriots the 2001 Championship? In 2004, he repeated the trick by kicking the game-winning goal with four seconds remaining in the game to secure the win. Yet, Vinatieri crushed Patriots fans’ hearts when he made the decision to sign with the rival Indianapolis Colts in 2006 after the Patriots opted not to put the franchise tag on him. Vinatieri had signed in 1996 with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent and his kicking contributions earned him the reputation as the greatest clutch kicker in history.

To replace Vinitieri, who became known as Mr. Automatic, New England drafted K Stephen Gostkowski out of Memphis in 2006. Vinitieri helped boot the Colts to the 2006 Super Bowl, in the process defeating New England in the AFC Title game. Of course, Gostkowski was perfect in that game and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2008. Even so, observers were left to wonder whether Belichick still would have gone for it on 4th-and-13 at the Giants’ 31 in Super Bowl XLII if he’d had Vinitieri rather than Gostkowski as his kicker.

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