Editor’s note: Each day during the week of Dec. 31, NESN.com will feature content based on key events from Robert Kraft’s tenure as owner of the Patriots. “Krafting a Legacy” will examine how the Patriots got to where they are today following Kraft’s purchase of the team.
It’s a word that’s been muttered in Foxboro countless times over the years. Trust in Robert Kraft. Trust in Bill Belichick. Trust in teammates. Trust in yourself.
Perhaps no sequence of events in Patriots history heightened the trust that is at the foundation of the franchise more than what happened in the fourth quarter of Week 2 of the 2001 season. That’s when Drew Bledsoe was knocked from the game following a brutal hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, and that’s when Belichick was forced to make what ultimately proved to be the best decision in franchise history.
Belichick tapped Tom Brady to take over for Bledsoe, who had suffered a vicious injury as a result of Lewis’ blow. Brady, now a future Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings, was an unproven, second-year signal caller at the time. A year prior, the former sixth-round pick out of Michigan found himself jockeying for position on the depth chart alongside the likes of Michael Bishop and John Friesz. But at that moment in ’01, he was thrust into action ahead of fellow backup Damon Huard in what proved to be a franchise-altering move.
At the time, Brady’s teammates, like second-year linebacker Matt Chatham, were unsure of what to expect. Chatham, who still has a great deal of respect for both Bledsoe and Brady, said that Brady had performed well in practice. Ultimately, however, it was the team’s trust in Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff to make the right decision that kept everyone focused on the task at hand.
NESN.com’s Ricky Doyle recently caught up with Chatham to discuss that now-famous play involving Bledsoe and the subsequent decision to go with Brady. The two also discussed New England’s improbable Super Bowl run that season, which Chatham said was the product of an amazing group of guys pulling together.
Check out the podcast below to relive the first of three Patriots Super Bowl wins.