Patriots

Great Patriots Debate: Who was the toughest quarterback: Brady, Bledsoe or Grogan?

Great Patriots Debate: Who was the toughest quarterback: Brady, Bledsoe or Grogan?

It's not a position that usually lends itself to the goriest of war stories. The quarterback spot — especially nowadays when it's protected by the rulebook better than ever before — isn't the first that springs to mind when the topic is toughness.

But the Patriots have had their share of resilient passers over the years, commanding the respect of teammates and fans alike for their ability to play on. Three in particular have to be mentioned in today's Great Patriots Debate.

Who, in your opinion, was the toughest quarterback in franchise history: Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe or Steve Grogan? 

Brady has played through all manner of bumps and bruises and things more severe during his two decades behind center. His shoulders have been battered. Back in 2002, he separated his shoulder, played through and exacerbated the issue in the season finale. He hurt his left shoulder in 2011 but played on, ultimately losing the Super Bowl. He hurt that shoulder again in 2017 — something that's helped keep him on the field because he does well to fall on his non-throwing arm when he can — but didn't miss a beat. 

Brady played through an ankle issue late in the 2015 season and suffered a significant ankle injury during his run to a Super Bowl in 2014. Brady's hand swelled up like a balloon in 2013, and perhaps his most publicized injury — a gruesome cut on his hand he suffered in practice late in 2017 — didn't keep him out. 

Brady's predecessor, meanwhile, certainly has a case as the tough man of the group. He played with pins in his throwing hand in 1998 and came back for a series after a hit from Mo Lewis rattled him so badly that his abdomen was filling with blood. 

“Drew could have died,” Dr. Thomas Gill told Sports Illustrated in 2016. “He ended up having about three liters of blood in his chest. He had torn one of the blood vessels behind his rib that was then pumping blood into his chest. They got a CAT scan of his belly, and you can see the bottom of the lung fields and they could see that was filled with fluid. 

"So then they extended the study up the chest and saw what the problem was. They were able to drain the blood out and immediately once that happened, he started feeling better, his breathing was under control, his blood pressure stabilized. But it was really dicey. I don't even think Drew knows how serious it was. But he really could have died.”

Then there's Grogan, who was so tough that he inspired something the Globe's Nick Cafardo called "GTM -- the Grogan Toughness Meter." 

"You won't find too many QBs past or present any tougher than old No. 14 Steve Grogan," Cafardo wrote in 2003, "who played 16 years for the Patriots with neck injuries, broken bones, and myriad pulls and strains. He was the ultimate spit-on-it-and-go-back-out-there football player. John Hannah calls him the toughest guy he ever played with."

Cafardo was writing at the time about Brady's toughness. The young quarterback's elbow "was swollen the size of a grapefruit" after a game against the Eagles, but there was no doubt Brady would continue to play.

"To explain GTM a little better," Cafardo continued, "here's a partial list of Grogan's ailments: five knee surgeries; screws in his leg after the tip of his fibula snapped; a cracked fibula that snapped when he tried to practice; two ruptured disks in his neck, which he played with for 1 1/2 seasons; a broken left hand (he simply handed off with his right hand); two separated shoulders on each side; the reattachment of a tendon to his throwing elbow; and three concussions ("I lost parts of my life," he said.)"

"I tried to play like I was a football player and not just a quarterback," Grogan said. "If I had to deliver a blow, I'd deliver a blow. If I had to run and take the hit, I'd take the hit."

Quarterbacks, sure. But one thing that Grogan, Brady and Bledsoe all had in common is that their peers would likely unanimously consider them more than that. They were (and are) football players. And in a game where toughness is a commodity valued as highly as any other, there aren't many compliments higher than that.

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Breakfast Pod: The Patriots defense has been awfully impressive

Breakfast Pod: The Patriots defense has been awfully impressive

Some takeaways from the Patriots' first three preseason games: a dominant defense, an up-and-coming rookie backup QB and Tom Brady's reluctance to go to young receivers.

1:11 - Tom Curran joins BST to discuss the success of the Patriots defense over these first three preseason games. The crew also gets into if we're starting to see some pieces being put into place for the next phase of the dynasty - specifically if Jarrett Stidham will in fact be the Tom Brady's successor.

8:31 - Andy Hart and Curran discuss the chemistry issues Brady and Jakobi Meyers seemed to be having Thursday night and if this is going to be a continuing problem for TB12 with young receivers.

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DEBUT OF THAT 617 LIFE POD: The Pats, Patrick Chung, and the Jay-Z/NFL partnership

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DEBUT OF THAT 617 LIFE POD: The Pats, Patrick Chung, and the Jay-Z/NFL partnership

In the premiere episode of "That 617 Life" podcast with Shanda Foster, Cerrone Battle, and Leroy Irvin, man do we have a lot to get through!

Off the top, we discuss the Patriots third preseason game against Carolina, including how Tom Brady looked, Jakobi Meyers with an uneven game, plus what to expect from Josh Gordon this season.

15:31: Shanda sounds off on the tattooed Larry Bird mural, Carmelo Anthony and the Lakers, and James Harden's magical beard powers.

21:51: Patrick Chung got in some hot water over a possible cocaine charge...lots to unpack of what happened at his New Hampshire house.

28:25: Cerrone's "Cold Cuts and Hot Takes" calls out Carmelo Anthony for not taking the hint and going away.

32:34: Jay-Z and the NFL announced a partnership this week, and there's been a lot of chatter on social media relating to Colin Kaepernick. A great discussion from the crew on this topic.

46:11: We finish out the show with "Playa's Call", including an unlikely choice from Shanda.

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE HERE:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.