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By Skip Bayless
Page 2 columnist
You flipped over to FOX for Sunday's McNabb-T.O. show at Texas Stadium, and you stumbled upon some weird new show that was ESPN Classic meets "The Twilight Zone."
The year was 1996. Drew Bledsoe was in his golden-winged prime as a, uh, Dallas Patriot? Bledsoe was whipping sweet spirals to the New England receiver, Terry Glenn, who had been dismissed as "she" by Patriots coach Bill Parcells.
That year, Bledsoe wasn't exactly John Wayne when his macho was tested by pass-rushers. But Parcells wanted to complete his Canton bust by proving he could win a Super Bowl by toughening up Bledsoe and Glenn.
So there the three of them were on Sunday in, uh, Foxborough, Texas? First play: Bledsoe, zinging to Glenn for 18 yards. Second play: Bledsoe, radar-locking on Glenn for 16. Two plays later: Bledsoe Glenn 15-yard touchdown.
Speeding bullets caught by a speeding bullet. "She" devils, 7-0.
This could not be happening in 2005.
But it was. In Dallas. To Philadelphia.
About five minutes later, Bledsoe's offense had the ball again, first-and-10 at the Eagles' 38. Glenn blew by Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard. Bledsoe stood in against the rush and threw a perfect rocket that hit Glenn in full flight in the end zone.
Ex-Patriots 14, Eagles 0.
I'll be damned.
I've never been much of a Bledsoe fan. Love his arm, don't trust his heart and nerve and cement-shoed feet. Always thought Parcells huffed and puffed and coached Bledsoe as far as he could, losing Super Bowl XXXI to Brett Favre's Packers, 35-21. Bledsoe threw four interceptions that night in New Orleans, to Favre's none.
I'll take Favre over Bledsoe in my foxhole any day.
Of course, Bill Belichick's Patriots dynasty began Sept. 23, 2001, when Bledsoe suffered a life-threatening injury when wiped out by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. Enter, Tom Brady. Belichick had so little respect for Bledsoe's ability to win football games -- and such high regard for Brady's -- that he eventually traded Bledsoe to a division rival, Buffalo
which finally dumped Bledsoe after last season. Bledsoe could stand tall in the pocket literally -- he's 6 foot 5 -- but seldom figuratively. A scarecrow could protect the ball from pass-rushers nearly as well as Bledsoe did last season.
At only 33, Bledsoe seemed older and more washed up than 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde.
At only 31, Glenn seemed headed for the couch even before Jerry Rice did at 42.
Only one man would have made them both starters again -- 64-year-old Parcells, the Most Stubborn Man in the NFL. I still can't quite get used to Parcells as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Bledsoe as Cowboys quarterback and Glenn as his most dangerous "speed" receiver.
But this Sunday, they went 1996 on Philly. In fact, this might have been Bledsoe's most dominant performance since '96.
If a defense allows Bledsoe to get off hot, throwing on rhythm without having to avoid rushers and buy time with his feet, he still has one of the game's most electric and accurate arms. And if a defense single-covers Glenn, as the Eagles did -- especially in the first half -- he'll wind up with seven catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
At times this season, it has been fitting that Bledsoe wears Danny White's old No. 11. White was nicknamed "the Master of Disaster." And a key reason the Cowboys acquired Peerless Price (who was inactive Sunday) was to push Glenn and make sure he avoids "injury."
But on Sunday, Bledsoe and Glenn did to Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens what McNabb and T.O. almost always do to opponents. Bledsoe's offense piled up 456 yards; McNabb's managed only 129. McNabb, sacked on the Eagles' first play and knocked around all day, clearly suffered from his sports hernia and no running game.
Before the game, McNabb told FOX's Terry Bradshaw that he'll need surgery after the season -- but that he wouldn't consider going through the four-to-six-week recovery now, even though the Eagles have a bye this week. Apparently, coach Andy Reid believes McNabb has so much John Wayne in him that he's indestructible.
What was Reid thinking sending McNabb back out there with the Cowboys leading 33-10 with 4:39 left?
For that matter, what was Bledsoe thinking when he snapped at Keyshawn Johnson, of all loose cannons, after Sheppard blindsided Keyshawn as he caught a flat pass from Bledsoe? Keyshawn's fumble was caught in midair by Sheldon Brown and returned for the TD that made it 30-10 late in the third quarter.
Bledsoe, suddenly trying to be a Parcells-like leader, said he "wasn't happy" because "we were absolutely dominating them" and he didn't want to allow Philly back in the game on turnovers. But this one wasn't Keyshawn's fault. This one was forced by Philly.
Keyshawn had to be restrained from getting in Bledsoe's face.
A few minutes later, Bledsoe appeared to have smoothed things over with Keyshawn. But I still don't trust Bledsoe. I still believe Parcells can go only so far with him.
But for one Foxborough flashback of a Sunday, Bledsoe and Glenn had the Eagles crying '96 tears.
Skip Bayless can be seen Monday through Friday on "Cold Pizza," ESPN2's morning show, and at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN's "1st & 10." His column appears twice a week on Page 2. You can e-mail Skip here.